Anyone who has read a good book, heard a great sermon, or even remembers a fun jingle or song, knows the power of words. Many sayings have been penned to summarize what words can mean and which words we should ignore; for instance, we all know, “sticks and stones will break by bones but names will never hurt me.” Today I want to talk about the power of words when expressed in the form of a question. Most people will have the right or the best answer to them, as most people have some guiding WHY which they draw upon to decide what to do.
Consider this conversation I had a few years ago with a group of teens at my church. The topic was teen parenting in the context of sex and birth control. Here were my questions;
Marian: Are any of you ready to be a parent?
Chorus of teens: No way! I have things to do – the prom, sports, school,college.
Marian: Hmm… which method of birth control is 100% effective?
Chorus of teens: Don’t have sex. That’s it; all the other methods are less than 100% effective.
Marian: You are all very well informed.
A few months later, my daughter, a college student, was approached by a teen who told her she was lucky to have a cool Mom. It wasn’t that I was so cool, it was that in my demonstrating a point, I let the kids draw their own conclusions based on their set of guiding information they already had and I just asked some questions. I didn’t offer any concluding statement, just asked them. Their WHY led them in the best direction.
What if we used that approach at work?
What would happen if we asked more questions and we helped people see and draw upon all the information they already had? What if we called on people to figure out what to do to solve problems, evaluate their own words, discover their own strengths, and what if we helped them draw on their personal WHY?
Think of what is in it for you…..you leave the challenge in the other person’s able hands, and leave them thinking you are cool! Nice!