Sunday, May 25, 2008

Asking Better Questions

How can you ask better questions?   How can you ask more effectively?  If you improve the questions you ask, as well as who you ask and how you ask, you can produce more effective results.   In Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement, Anthony Robbins writes about asking intelligently and precisely to get the results you want.  

5 Guidelines for Asking Intelligently and Precisely
According to Robins, the five guidelines for asking better questions are:

  1. Ask specifically.
  2. Ask someone who can help you.
  3. Create value for the person you're asking.
  4. Ask with focused, congruent belief.
  5. Ask until you get what you want.

1. Ask specifically.
Robbins writes that you have to be specific about what you want:

You must describe what you want, both to yourself and someone else.  How high, how far, how much?  When, where, how, with whom?  If your business needs a loan, you'll get it -- if you know how much to ask.  You won't get it if you say, "We need some more money to expand into a new product line.  Please lend us some."  You need to define precisely what you need, why you need it, and when you need it.  You need to be able to show what you'll be able to produce with it.  In our goal-setting seminars, people always say they want more money.  I hand them a couple of quarters.  They asked and they recieved, but they didn't ask intelligently, so they didn't get what they wanted.

2. Ask someone who can help you.
Robbins writes that you have to ask the right person:

It's not enough to ask specifically, you must ask specifically of someone who has the resources -- the knowledge, the capital, the sensitivity, or the business experience.  Let's say you're having trouble with your spouse.  Your relationships is falling apart.  You can pour out your heart.  You can be as specific and as honest as humanly possible.  But if you seek help from someone who has as pitiful a relationship as you do, will you succeed?  Of course not.

Finding the right person to ask brings us back to the importance of learning how to notice what works. Anything you want -- a better relationship, a better job, a smarter program for investing your money -- is something someone already has or something someone already does.  The trick is to find those people and figure out what they do right.  Many of us gravitate toward barroom wisdom.  We find a sympathetic ear and expect that to translate to results.  It won't unless the sympathy is matched by expertise and knowledge.

3. Create value for the person you're asking.
Robbins writes that you have to make it a win-win for the person you're asking:

Don't just ask and expect someone to give you something.  Figure out how you can help them first.  If you've had a business idea and need money to pull it off, one way to do it is to find someone who can both help and benefit.  Show them how your idea can make money for you and for them as well.  Creating value doesn't always have to be that tangible.  The value you create may only be a feeling or a sensibility or a dream, but often that's enough.  If you came up to me and said you needed $10,000, I'd probably say, "So do a lot of other people."  If you said you needed the money to make a difference in people's lives, I might begin to listen.  If you specifically showed me how you wanted to help others and create value for them and yourself, I might see how helping you could create value for me as well.

4. Ask with focused, congruent belief.
Robbins writes that you have to ask with conviction:

The surest way to ensure failure is to convey ambivalence.  If you aren't convinced about what you're asking for, how can anyone else be?  So when you ask, do it with absolute conviction.  Express that in your words and your physiology.  Be able to show that you're sure of what you want, you're sure you'll succeed, and you're sure you will create value, not just for you but for the person you're asking as well.

5. Ask until you get what you want.
Robbins writes that you have to keep asking until you get what you want:

That doesn't mean asking the same person.  It doesn't mean asking in precisely the same way.  Remember, the Ultimate Success Formula says you need to develop the sensory acuity to know what you're getting, and you have to have the personal flexibility to change.  So when you ask, you have to change and adjust until you achieve what you want.  When you study the lives of successful people, you'll find over and over again that they kept asking, kept trying, kept changing -- because they knew that sooner or later they would find someone who couldn't satisfy their needs.

"Ask Until" Is the Most Important Part
Robbins writes that asking until you get what you want is the most important part of asking intelligently:

Sometimes people do all four perfectly.  They ask specifically.  They ask someone who can help them.  They create value for the person they've asking.  They ask congruently.  And even after that, they don't get what they want.  The reason is they didn't do the fifth thing.  They didn't "ask until."   That's the fifth and most important part of asking intelligently.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Be specific.
  • Ask the right person.
  • Find a win-win.
  • Believe in what you're asking for.
  • Keep asking until you get what you want.

I find that asking intelligently at work helps me be more effective.  For example, if I know what to ask for and I know who to ask and I show a win-win, this helps me get support for a project or idea.  I know that if at first I don't succeed, to try, try again.  I also change my approach, if it's not working.  It's about persistence and tuning along the way.

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2 comments:

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi J.D.

Ask and you shall receive.

I agree with these key points. We are only wasting our breath if we ask someone who doesn't know or can't help us. Many will speculate and give us a good guess, but for a definitive answer we need to go to the right source.

It reminds me of when I'm doing online research. I will go from site to site until I find the one that answers my question.

Perseverance does pay off.

J.D. Meier said...

Hey Barbara

Online research still surprises me. As much stuff as I can find online, I'm surprised by how many of the great needles are still in offline haystacks. But like you say, we need to go to the right source.