Don't Argue - Ask Questions
art of creating winning outcomes for everyone involved
As the saying goes "It takes two to tango."
Well, it also takes two to argue. It is impossible to have an
argument with someone if they don't participate. If your goal
is to reach a solution and create a win/win outcome, arguing
isn't the route to take. Instead the best way to reach a collaborative
conclusion is to ask questions.
We are taught to ask questions in coaching so
the other person can hear in their own words the solutions.
In fact it is said that coaches do not ask questions so they
can hear the answer, but so the client can hear the answer.
Questions allow the person to take ownership and responsibility
for the solution. Although there are times, when coaching a
client, that I already know the answer. It is more powerful
to allow my client to come to it on their own in their own words.
The same works in an argument. If all you want to do is argue,
questioning isn't likely to be helpful. If you want to co-create
a solution questioning can assist in creating a solution that
will be agreeable to both parties.
As an adjunct faculty member at a local University,
I find that it is useless to argue or try to reason with students
when talking with them about their grades. The student always
begins the conversation believing I am wrong and they are right
. . . the foundation to arguments. By asking simple questions
such as "What do you think your grade should be?"
or "If you were the professor how would you grade the paper?"
the student begins to see the problem from a different perspective.
Most of the time the conversation ends with the student accepting
the grade or at least understanding why they earned it. Questioning
allows them to work through the problem and think about it in
a different way.
I find this process helpful anytime there is conflict.
I found the process of asking questions to be extremely valuable
when making a custom order at my local hardware store. I had
followed the directions in the electrical department that advised
me to take my custom order to the cashier and they would place
the order, bill me and arrange for shipping. When I did that,
the cashier was completely confused and called Gloria the head
cashier over. Gloria proceeded to tell me that I was wrong and
I would have to go to another department to place the order.
I showed Gloria the instructions, but it was clear she wasn't
interested. Instead of arguing with her, I started asking questions.
I started with the most important one, "Gloria, how are
we going to resolve this?" I stayed calm and focused on
the goal to get the order placed. Gloria wasn't happy about
helping me. However, in the end I got what I wanted without
arguing about it. Questions helped Gloria and I stay focused
Unless you just want to have a good argument,
avoid defending your position and focus on asking questions.
Questions take the heat out of the situation and allow both
parties to view the problem from a different perspective. Even
if you know the answer, the other person will be more open to
the solution if they are allowed to discover it on her or his
Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD provides daily motivation,
information and inspiration to thousands of busy self development
enthusiast who want to stay focused and on track to their goals
through her award winning e-zine 365 Days of Coaching. For a
free report, "The Power of Daily Action - How to create
more Wealth, Health and Happiness by Tapping Into the Power
of Daily Action" go to http://www.365daysofcoaching.com/daily_action.htm.
2006 True Direction, Inc.