How One Question Sparks Engagement
People aren’t engaged because the questions they hear are dull.
If you’re on my team, you’re committed to constant improvement. Meetings always include, “What can we do better next time?”
I have a Feeler on my team. It’s safe to ask him:
- What should we do?
- What’s working?
- What could be better?
An engaging question:
When I asked the Feeler on my team, “How do you want people to feel?” He started to give a quick knee-jerk answer. Then he paused.
I didn’t fill the silence.
He started again.
When he heard the right question, his face turned sober. He looked down. His shoulders dropped a little. The question felt heavy.
We waited while he reflected. He stumbled for a response. Then he said something wonderful.
“I need to think about this.”
The bigger context of the above question is turning people toward the future. I’m particularly interested in how he wants people to feel about themselves and the future.
Next week I’ll ask again, “How do you want people to feel?”
The follow up is, “What might you do that sparks those emotions?”
Tips on powerful questions:
Don’t ask Doers what to start. Doers are finishers, not starters. Once a Doer is committed to an idea, ask them for a plan.
Don’t ask Dreamers how to finish. Dreamers are starters, not finishers. Ask Dreamers for options. “What might we try?”
People feel engaged when you take their perspective and approach them through their lens.
What questions lower engagement or invite resistance?
What questions spark engagement?
Great questions Dan, that start with knowing your people! Which one is the feeler? Who is the doer? Who is the Dreamer? If you don’t know your people, you don’t know what to ask to whom.
Thanks Duane. If you don’t know your people you can’t lead them. You can impose things on them. You can pressure them. But you can’t lead them.
What if you are a Dreamer and a Doer? Can you be both?
Great question Jodi. We all have all three points of view to varying degrees. We tend to be really good at one, average at another, and mediocre at the last.
Another factor to consider is context. When it’s time to plan, we bring our inner Doer to the table.
What’s really cool is to see how these qualities interact in ourselves. Generally speaking, the more you have of one perspective the less you have of the others.
I have learned that to engage people, don’t ask them to support your cause, ask them to join the cause and help them see the benefits to them. One of those benefits is to help them see the value that they can bring and how it brings value to actively support the cause. In other words create a vision with a call to action (turning them toward a hopeful future) and include them in it. Help them see themselves brining success in a way that will challenge them to grow forward to become better than where they are today. Articulating the message so you are speaking their language is always a plus, for sure! Being a dreamer and a doer can become a potent combination.
I believe we have the capabilities of being all 3, Dreamer, Doer’s and Feeler’s, as I reflect on Life’s challenges to get to were we are today along the journey, we “dreamed of College, felt overwhelmed and finished, or other challenges in life radiate the three points.
Dreamed of military, felt pressured, went to the Academy became a Captain etc. To what degree we master the capabilities is how we apply ourselves to each, at different times along the path’s we have chosen.
I think you’re on to an important idea. We have all three and use all three.
I would add that some people are so good at Doing that they don’t have much Feeling. It’s not like these orientations are equally balanced. Although we have all three capabilities.
Sometimes I notice that people like to claim to be Dreamers so as to avoid Doing. I remember a time where someone claimed they were good at “birthing” new things, but not on seeing the projects through. When it comes to kids, that would be disastrous. But Dreamers are often over admired at the expense of the others in my experience.
I love this post on so many levels! I re-read it several times to think about different scenarios, groups, etc. that I am involved in. I often ask the 3 questions you posed initially – what should we do; what is working, what can we do better (although not necessarily in this order) – but engagement and buy in is often tied to how we feel. This is a great question to actually pose to focus our work that we want to lead to a deeper level of engagement, commitment, etc.
Vicki, you’ve pretty nicely nailed it, methinks.
Given that each of us struggles to some degree to integrate our dreams, our locus/capacity, and our instincts … both individually and collectively …
The Dreamer/Visionary gremlin demands a good answer to the question, “Why?” Why do any of this at all? To what end? It’s a FUTURE creation of a “common good” question and answer, by nature STRATEGIC (and generally intangible and quality based).
The Achiever/Competence gremlin demands far more specific concrete/material q&a: “How?” What’s it gonna take? Do we have it, can we get it? It’s a HERE & NOW “common sense” q&a, by nature TACTICAL (and mostly tangible and quantifiable).
The Lover/Instinct gremlin is the persona, the mediator who confronts both and demands details of both other beloveds, “Who? What? When?” What are the appropriate priorities at which points in the process? Which is more important, sustainability or change? It’s the “critical path” PAST experience influence on the q&a, by nature FAMILIAL (mostly relational and preservational).
Find the language / consensus that can energize all three at once to take possession of their own contributions while allowing the others theirs, and you’ve got synergy. Get them to work with one another (to coordinate) and you’ve got integrity.
I think certain types of organisation (unconsciously) filter out feelers and dreamers. Nobody would ever ask “How do you want people to feel?” and if anyone did, I suspect nobody would understand, never mind know the answer.