“I never learn anything talking.
I only learn when I ask questions.”
– Lou Holtz
My wife, TLJ*, was telling me she’d heard a renowned psychologist, Dr.Edith Eger, talking on the radio last week.
She was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during the holocaust and had endured severe traumas over her life.
But she had built a successful career as a therapist, speaker and writer in the US, around helping others overcome trauma and making the most of their lives.
The interviewer asked her what advice she would give to a couple looking to improve their relationship. She replied with a profound question that stopped the interviewer in their tracks.
“I’d ask them to consider this question”, she said,
“What’s it like to be in a relationship with you?”
10 words that create a complete mindshift, and a super question that can be applied in different contexts. For example:
- What’s it like to be managed or led by you?
- What’s it like to be parented by you?
- What’s it like to be in a meeting with you?
- What’s it like to be married to you? To be your child?
- What’s it like to be your employee?
Reflecting on your version of this question for any area is a super way to begin creating more empathy for the people we interact with and by default, more opportunity for you to get better.
In Ireland, there is a huge political controversy right now because over 80 politicians decided it was okay to attend a golf event and dinner (GolfGate), when the government had asked everyone in the country to not have such events because of the pandemic.
It seemed no-one stopped to consider, with empathy, how it would be perceived by others or the message it would send. Or if indeed, it was the right thing to do.
Smart people all have blindspots. And can make mistakes.
Reflecting on questions like the ones above, frequently, should reduce the risk of making big ones in our careers and lives.
What’s your version this week?
What’s it like to be…?
* TLJ = The Lovely Judy
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