I have been on a self-improvement drive for some time now. I feel like i need to be more efficient with my time as it is a non-renewable resource. I am not getting it back and hence I try to get most out of every moment.
I am also very ambitious and expect the best from myself. This sounds good but is very taxing, constantly trying to improve yourself takes a toll in some way. But still, I do it.
On asking questions-
I read this HBR article that talked about asking questions and why it is important.
Asking questions with a genuine interest in knowing more helps us understand the subject and people deeply. The type, tone, sequence, and the way questions are framed matter a lot. Following are the few steps which I have identified that helped me in implementing this:
1. Asses your gathering, the kind of people you will negotiate with. Spend sometime before the meeting to first understand what you want and what they want. Think about how can this meeting be a win-win for both. Find ways to make it a positive sum game. And meet with an open mind.
2. You can begin with open-ended questions. It will help in opening up and pave way for the tougher, sensitive questions. Look at it as a trust-building exercise.
3. If you are in a deep negotiation where open-ended questions will not mislead be direct.
4. You can also think about how you sequence your questions. Easy to hard mostly works.
5. Be mindful of how you frame your questions. Sometimes asking a question positively might not get you the right answer (“Are people leaving the company?”. Questions that will require a negative answer works best in this situation (“What was the attrition rate in the last quarter”?). You might get the truth.
6. Be genuine.
On how to form an opinion.
We as a species form an opinion very fast even without understanding the topic deeply. Most of us live in a reactive state and hence are very quick in judging and forming views on almost everything.
I have been operating slightly differently from a couple of years on this whole “forming a view” thing and on the need to always have an opinion.
We all have limited time and energy. We need to prioritize and choose what we want to do. Having an opinion on something involves a lot of hard work. As per Charlie Munger to form a point of view (opinion) you should be able to state the arguments better than the opponents. This is when you are entitled to hold an opinion. And it is a lot of work. When I understood this I stopped having opinions on a lot of things. I identified topics which are important to me personally and at work, choose the battles I want to pick and worked hard to have a point of view on each of them. The number is very low but the argument is strong.
I don’t think we need to have an opinion on everything. Do what matters to you and takes you forward. From an organization perspective, you might feel pushed to form a view on everything. I would suggest choosing your battles here. The one that will have the maximum impact. Simply follow the Pareto principle and have a strong view on it and how it should happen.
I am doing the same. And saving a lot of energy. Your manager and people around you might not understand this way of working but it should become clear once they can see the outcomes. Do what is important. And do it fast.