IPMA International Project Management Association
17 December 2021 / 8:51

Powerful questions that change your life

Hate me – to make my work useful. That is a weird expectation when starting to work with a client. But it is an expectation, and it is a reasonable expectation – better than no expectation at all.

As an American humorist, Don Marquis pointed out: “If you make people think they are thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they hate you.”

Knowing how to think is a big asset in today’s world. The reason is just one and simple. People don’t think – not as much as they should. We consume information permanently on the move – switching between projects, meetings, and social media. Quick input, quick output, because there are many new things and no time. When this is true, I will always have a job. Job to coach with people – to make people think.

To get the answer, you need to ask questions first.

Today, I want to share three very powerful questions with you- the three questions that will change your life. Literally, I am not kidding. However, the questions work under one condition. You must use them.

What do you need to find out in this blog post to say it was a well-invested time?
Think for a moment. Why did you start to read this blog post? What was your expectation? Did you even have an expectation?

I can tell you most people don’t have expectations. And I see that as a problem. I am training people, and before each training, I ask a typical question: What are your expectations towards the training? Guess what answers I receive. I want to learn something new. I want to learn something I can apply in my work. I want to have fun (training for MS Excel, having fun, good luck 😊)

Some people participate in the training because someone – their boss- sends them there. What a waste of time. What a waste of time for me as a trainer. What a waste of time for the participant. In other words, if we don’t have expectations, we are wasting time doing something which does not really matter.

What do you expect from the meeting with your colleagues? What do you expect from reading a book? I can tell you, people who know the answer to those questions are more effective and efficient – just because they don’t waste their time. Suppose you go to a meeting with certain expectations, like solving a particular problem. In that case, you are active, curious, and ask questions – you value your time by getting the most out of it.

After reading this blog post, how will you notice that it was a helpful blog?
What indicator will tell you at the end of this blog post: dam, that was a good one – that is a great post. A slight grin on your face? Sixty seconds of silence. A thought – I hate this guy?

It is not only about setting the expectations before we decide to dedicate our time to something. It is also about being able to recognize whether the expectations were fulfilled. We set KPIs on our projects. We set KPIs for others. What about starting to think about the indicators for ourselves?

My first question during the coaching session is: What needs to be different after our session? This question focuses on the indicators of success directly from the beginning of coaching. Knowing which indicators are essential helps us prepare ourselves to find the solution. The same is valid for all our activities, whether a simple meeting, training or even a good dinner. If we know what we are looking for, there is a chance we will find it.

What was the most useful for you in this blog post?
What made you stop and think for a while. Where did you pause reading to think – rethink your point of view?

I love this third question very much. It literally changes every meeting, whether training, coaching or just regular project meetings. By asking this question, I force people to stop and think for a while. Stop and recap what we have discussed. The last question is about reflection. I have observed that people don’t learn from experience. People learn from reflected experience. Reflection after any of our activities is nice closure – it is a good bridge from one activity to another.

I am sure you have the same experience. We schedule a meeting on ZOOM or MS Teams for 60 minutes. After 65 minutes we need to apologize and switch to another meeting – because we are already late. Sometimes we don’t even apologize; we just leave. We don’t finish one thing – we directly jump to another. At the end of a day, we have a series of unfinished activities, which we do not recognize because we don’t do the reflection at the end of the day 😊

But not anymore. Now, five minutes before the meeting’s scheduled end, we ask our colleagues: What was the most useful for you during the meeting? And we do that not because we want to look smart. We do that because we want people to reflect on what has been done and prepare them for the next activity. The activity for which they clearly defined their expectations. 😉

We started with a phrase that you need to ask the questions first to get the answer. But, hold on, what answers? Answers about what you should do and what you should not. Ask the three questions I just gave you if you don’t know. Modify them, so they fit your purpose. And if you need to dedicate your time to something you don’t like, ask those questions again and find your purpose.

As a coach, my job is to make people think, so if the output of my work is that people hate me for making them think. I take it. I really do 😉

Before I say goodbye, what was the most useful for you in this blog post?

Cheers 😉
Marek

 

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Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN focused Coach at Vaillant Group. His primary responsibility is to design systems to drive and to navigate cultural change towards a culture of continuous improvement. Marek develops his coaching practices in the industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England.

Besides his love for cultural transformation and process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. As the Management Board Member, he co-developed IPMA Slovakia by taking care of Marketing and Communication. In between 2019 and 2021, he was also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for the Global Young Crew Workshop and Coaches and Mentors program.

Marek has several hobbies. One of them is writing. To develop this skill, Marek writes about Coaching, Culture, Behaviors, and Project Manager Practice.

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