The Power of Asking Versus the Force of Telling

The Power of Asking Versus the Force of Telling -  Steve Wickham

A while back I got a different sort of meeting request at work. I was being summonsed to assist with an audit objective and it seemed important. If I didn't already know it was important, I soon surmised it as critical when I read the colored label "Must Attend"! Needless to say, I was otherwise free, so I accepted the invitation.
Yet, I felt not-quite-right about it. Later that day I reflected on this experience and then recognised what I felt earlier was a form of instant aggrievement at being 'told' I must attend. Several times during the ensuing period prior to the meeting I reflected, and the more I did, the more the very minor resentment burgeoned within me.
Then, on the day of the meeting, a colleague, who was also told he 'must attend,' approached me in planning for the meeting, and he also voiced his displeasure in receiving the invitation in this manner. It reminded me of the negotiation principle of the 'power of asking versus the force of telling.' We both joked how we felt like boycotting the meeting. Now, how childish would that have been?
The meeting transpired and it was a normal meeting and the person requesting the meeting was anything but the ogre they'd come across as. I certainly didn't feel told what to do -- it didn't end up that way at all.
In reflecting on this discussion I felt I had let myself down, and the person who had sent the meeting invite, for having the feelings of resentment and for sharing this with another person, regardless how minor.
But, I also thought, "Do I cause resentments in others by virtue of my demands on them?"
Being told what to do reminds us of being a child; of having little or no control over things. Being asked however generates a totally different effect, and the power of influence is suddenly open to use. People might feel privileged to be asked or genuinely invited. Being asked is also a question that intuits a response -- it is voluntary. Being told is a command, and commands don't often work these days. Even in authority circles, commands don't work very well. (And how many people still don't get this?!)
There is real power in asking and employing age-old principles of influence. You will get more, and achieve more with people, when you ask and don't tell. You'll also retain something far more important -- your relationship with the people affected. It only takes a little more effort and creativity to ask rather than tell.
Make a commitment to yourself to ask more questions, particularly when it comes to seeking commitment from others to do things you want them to do. Work also on finding creative ways of persuading people so they will actually want to do your thing.

Copyright © 2008, Steven John Wickham.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living and an exploration of the person within us, and especially the breaking of gener ational curses.Article Source:  Article Source:

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