The small room had a round table. Four of us surrounded the table looking at each other as we talked. We were there to discuss making significant changes and the faces on every participant reflected it.
It wasn’t the first time we had gathered to exchange information in an effort to make some decisions about how to change our business. And, as the conversation started, I realized that it was the first time our work had shifted from gathering information to taking concrete steps toward what we hoped would be a brighter future.
That realization had an ever-deepening significance as it caused me to reflect on my own progress toward becoming a “Question-Asking Master.”
“If you want to change your life or career fast, stop talking and start listening to people everywhere you go,” flashed through my mind.
As soon as this one, principled thought made its impression, the fear related to my current life-changing meeting began to melt away. I knew instantly that my little band didn’t need to have all of the answers right then and there. The most effective path forward, toward the greatest possible success, was simple: ask more questions and do more listening as a way to focus on helping others.
Having a focus on lifting other people in life can be challenging. Perhaps it’s because doing so requires us to keep our mouths shut most of the time. I’m sure that’s easy for some. Yet, for me, it is often like trying to hold back an ocean’s tide.
So, I quickly and silently ran through my Question-Asking Master checklist, “How often do I feel the need to talk and share my opinions? Do I ever dominate the conversation in my meetings? Do I tell too many of my own stories?”
And, then, perhaps the biggest, most revealing checklist question of all: “Is there any chance that I’m subconsciously trying to get self-validation to make myself feel more important and valued?”
I looked around the room at my colleagues gathered at the round table in front of me. “They’re worth it,” I thought. “They deserve to be respected.”
So, I began to ask relevant questions out loud and then I listened. I listened more and began to focus on letting them talk. Only then did I speak to ask more questions. The longer I listened to them talk, the more an easy feeling of relief filled the room.
Then an amazing thing happened: All of the coldness started to melt away from the faces in the room. We all felt better and shared a belief that we could take our next steps confidently — together. It was a monumental change.
It’s also a change each of us can enjoy personally and collectively. Do you want to make significant changes in your life?
Then, you have to change you, first.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.