QUESTIONS THAT WORK WHEN:
You Are Put on the Spot
Truth is often the best alternative.
When you are on the spot, whether because of a conflict with an employee or a reporter on the line, you can use positive questions to shift power back into balance. If we had our way, we would want unilateral control over any situation in our life; we want to be in charge of what happens. The less control we have, the more anxiety, paranoia, and hostility we may feel. If we are using questions to control the conversation from our point of view, it still should not threaten the other person. Questions do not live up to their potential if they make the other party feel that she is defending herself. Instead, we need to use questions to decrease the potential for confrontation. Inquiry should not be used to criticize feelings. The more the other person constructively releases emotions and has them recognized, the more comfortable or calm she may be. The questions should help the sides to work together to create solutions. In any conversation, both sides will be tested, with questions shaping the discussion and each discovering the other side's expectations. In the end, you typically want the other side to either reconsider its position or consider the merits of your position. You will have a psychological shield and sword to do battle if you use questions to identify and challenge threats.
Conflict often creates meaning, as the fight among facts, beliefs, and competing motives defines differences. Positive questioners do not avoid conflict; they make it constructive. Much of conflict resolution theory comes down to one thought—no argument will be settled until both