Here are the top 5 questions that will change your understanding of others

During my years as a mentor, tutor and coach, I’ve come across a multitude of situations where people just don’t seem to understand each other no matter how much they try. This often results in confusion, arguments, or even worse – conflict.

The key to understanding and helping others is first and foremost, the art of active listening, a skill that is much harder than one would think. The difference between listening and active listening is curiosity.
How many times have you been in a meeting or sat around the dinner table listening to what the person on the other side of the table is saying while coming up with a counterargument at the same time?
Or, trying to help a friend in despair by coming up with solutions to their problem as they are telling you about their situation?

For example; how many times have you conflicted and used the sentence:
”I would never have done what you just did!”?
Of course, you wouldn’t – you are not them.

The best way to make sure you understand another human is by asking questions and really listen to the answers. Rather than thinking about the answers, you would give.

Here are the top 5 questions you could ask, to truly understand the person in front of you.

1. Can You Tell Me More?
”Tell me more”, three powerful words that work as a follow-up question to almost every statement. When asked genuinely, it shows your interest in the person’s story plus opens up space and emotional safety for them to verbalise their mind.

2. What Do You Want?
I always ask my students and clients what they want. Sounds easy but it’s super important to know what a person wants before you try to help them. Otherwise, you might end up giving them the thing you want. I stress that I am here to help them create their own map that gets them where they want to go. It’s so easy to say want you don’t want. Try encouraging people to define what they do want. It can be transformative.

3. What’s Standing In Your Way?
Life can be full of obstacles and naming the difficulties, for what they are, can help you understand what problem you genuinely need to solve. Often Try to dig deeper and maybe you will find the actual problem. If you solve that, the symptoms will go away.

4. What Do You Need Most Right Now?
When stress hits, or when someone is lost in their thoughts, help them force prioritize. Sounds hard, but it’s as simple as asking ”What do you need most right now?” That question is powerful because it puts focus on the most important thing right now. It that need is met, the person can then move on to the next thing and so on – creating a momentum forward.

5. So What?
I often ask, ”so what?” to a friend or client who is stuck on something that affects them emotionally. Usually, the client recognizes that the worst thing that could happen just isn’t that bad. Other times, there is a realisation that when they verbalize the potential consequences, there is an opportunity to take action.

/Christopher Waldekrantz