Friday, March 23, 2007

A Simple Rearrangement of Words

I've recently noticed that when I'm at work and I need to make a decision or go to my boss for approval on something, I always couch it in a question:

"Do you think I should do _____?"

Why do I do that? Because I don't want to be too pushy. Because I'm afraid of being wrong and that she'll hold it against me. Because I'm afraid she'll say no.

Because it's just what I've always done.

And then it hit me: Why am I asking a question? I know exactly what I'd like to do. By asking questions instead of telling people what I'm thinking, I'm forcing them into some kind of odd guessing game with me--a game they don't even know they're involved in. A game in which I'm hoping they will be able to magically divine the answer I want.

So yesterday, I tried something different. I walked into my boss's office. I sat in the chair in front of her desk with my papers and my pen. I made my case, and instead of ending it with "Do you think I should do ________", I ended with:

"I would like to do _______. I think it's the best step and the quickest way to resolve this."

She said yes. Immediately. I've never gotten an answer out of her that quickly before.

How easy was that? If you want something, just ask for it--what a concept!

And it only took me 30 years to learn it.