If the most powerful speaking act is acknowledgement, then one of the most powerful questions must be “what do you think?”.
Sound reasonable? … What do you think?
It’s a very powerful question isn’t it. It says a lot.
It says that I am interested in your opinion and that I value your input. It says that what you think matters to me, and that I am happy to take the time to listen to what you have to say.
Most of the time we go into a conversation already knowing what we want as an outcome and at best, we are looking for our idea to be validated, maybe tweaked; so that it can be accepted as the best way to move forward.
And whilst we may “go through the motions” of having the conversation, getting everyone “on board” and steering the finish to what we had already decided, we really aren’t actively interested in what other people think most of the time.
But what if we were … actively interested?
I am not suggesting we would get to a different answer … because we might not. But what we would get to is a greater sense of acknowledgment from the people we are speaking with.
In the two times I tried this out recently the outcome was the same. We ended up going with what I had already concluded was the best way forward.
What was different though, was the impact it had on the other person.
People will contribute more if they feel they are valued and respected. People will invest more if they feel that they have a voice.
The next time you want people to buy into an idea, a project or strategy, try asking them “what do you think?”.
Whilst not everyone is going to agree with the decision, everyone is going to feel better about the outcome, because their voice has been heard.