7 Questions that Change the Way People Think
When making decisions the most important thing is to make them.
The principles of decision-making include:
- Go with your highest point of clarity. (Important decisions are never perfectly clear.)
- Keep moving forward, especially after making mistakes.
- Fear creates a disappointing future.
7 questions that change the way people think:
#1. Will it cause harm?
Reasonable certainty that your decision won’t cause harm is justification to take the next step. When uncertainty is high, make smaller decisions. Clarity emerges as you move forward, not before.
#2. Does it seem like forward movement?
Cautious decision-makers unintentionally move toward a past that feels comfortable – even if it was disappointing.
Decisions that don’t create forward movement are terms of surrender disguised as wisdom.
#3. What’s the bravest thing you can do?
You move from reactive to proactive thinking when you ask, “What’s the bravest thing I could do?”
When fear dominates thinking, this question shifts perspective from reaction to initiative.
#4. If you could, what would you do?
‘If you could’ questions often change the way people think about themselves.
They say, “I don’t know.” You ask, “If you did know?”
They say, “I can’t.” You ask, “If you could?”
#5. Are there obstacles?
If everything needs to feel natural and easy, you’d still be crawling.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Marcus Aurelius
Obstacles make the path worth following. A path without obstacles is monotony.
#6. Who might help?
Look for someone with…
- Unique knowledge or skill.
Look for someone who will help you decide, not decide for you.
#7. What happens if you do nothing?
You’re making decisions to improve something.
If you aren’t willing to change, stop thinking about change.
Which of the above questions speak to you?
What questions change the way people think? Why?
Question #4 If you could, what would you do? We all have constraints. This question is super helpful in not letting those constraints hold you back more than they should. For instance, it i want to take a trip to Australia but i can’t afford the airline ticket……………. What are the steps that i would need to take if I had the money for the ticket? There are many steps that have no financial requirements such as planning and researching. If I undertake those and then I can afford it later on, I’m way ahead. If I do all those things and I still can’t afford to go, I had a great time learning all about Australia and have the reward of taking a “virtual trip.”
It always amazes me, how in such a few words you capture great, lengthy topics and make them easy to relate, explain, and help understand.
Dan, I like your comment, “Go with your highest point of clarity. (Important decisions are never perfectly clear.)”
Some of my favorite questions that influence people’s thinking include:
1. Who owns the problem?
2. Who needs to be included in this decision?
3. What other ways could the problem be defined?
4. What new opportunities exist because of this problem?
5. What will it take to enforce this decision?
6. How will people feel about implementing this decision?
I work for a state agency. The former head of my unit gave out permission cards. There were three questions on it. If you could answer “Yes” to all three, you had permission to go ahead and do it without having to ask anyone else.
Jennifer, what were the three questions if they were always the same 3 questions on the permission cards (or at least the gist of them)?
Always the same questions. And now that I pulled it out again (after 15+ years), there are actually six questions:
Employee Permission Card
Key questions to ask yourself:
1) Is it good for my customers?
2) Is it legal and ethical?
3) Is it something I am willing be accountable for?
4) Is it within my sphere of responsibility?
5) Is it consistent with our mission?
6) Am I using my time wisely.
“If the answer is yes to all of these questions, don’t ask for permission — you already have it!!”
Thank you for pulling and providing that information Jennifer. I think the six questions are comprehensive and valid. I wonder if anyone viewing this will make and use those cards.
#4 and #7 really speak to me.
#4 was frequently helpful in breaking through the “we have never done it that way before” mindset. Too many people translate :we’ve never” into “we can’t.”
#7 not only reveals or clarifies willingness to change, but often proved the value of waiting for more or better information or analysis, rather than just “doing something” on the spur of the moment or to signal our concern. There’s way too much of this in our public and private institutions. Sometimes doing nothing -at least right now- is the best decision.
” If you could, what would you do?” This rings so many bells for me. W often expect the leader to solve all the problems. Sometimes we expect them to tell us what to do. In fact, everyone is capable of pitching in. “What if you could?” will be one of my responses from now on. Thank you for another amazing, insightful piece, Dan!
think like a tiger, walk like a lion
I LOVE what happens if I do nothing?! This is applicable to so many things in my life…exercise, work, relationships, etc. I’ll need this one up in a frame somewhere! TY for always offering such practical and useful tools!