Finding the right question starts with listening… and sometimes listening to ourselves

Here we go, walking nicely around the path of our life, reading a few stories at time, and pang, just like that, we come straight in front of a huge big puddle… one of this damn puddle that keeps widening even when everything around seems quite dry….

therightquestionJust like that we have one question…

How on earth can we jump over that big puddle or bypass it? More important how to ensure it won’t be back again? and to reply to that question, we need more questions…. we actually need to find the right question!
Finding the right question is not about speaking… it’s about listening. No kidding, listening to hear what is not really said. And, if like me you are often talking to yourself, this is also something you will be able to apply to your inner-dialogue (even funnier when those inner dialogue are out loud, coaching our gremlin to get the right question… just the right joke!).we jump over that big puddle or bypass it? More important how to ensure it won’t be back again? and to reply to that question, we need more questions…. we actually need to find the right question!

What does it mean to listen?

Actually rather what tools do we have to become great listener? What are we looking for? It’s true knowing what we’re listening for help getting the right focus, and we are usually aiming for two things:

1) Recognising communication style like words, patterns (either to identify our strategies, or to understand how best to communicate with someone else).

2) Recognising what is really said  to identify the hidden information or the internal representations used (either to identify limiting beliefs, negative emotions, patterns of behaviour issues, everything that we want to work with, reframe or challenge with the meta-model).

Let’s say right now we are playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, listening tor our shadow… What are we looking for?

Words as predicates – For instance audio, visual, kinesthetic or auditory digital.

Words as linguistic presuppositions – What do the words used presuppose? Can we recognise presuppositions of existence? Of possibilities or necessities? Of cause and effects? Of complex equivalences? Of awareness? Of time? Some recurrent adverbs or adjectives?

Words as meta-model violations – How do we distort, generalise or delete the information?

Words as associated or dissociated – Do we see things through our eyes? When being associated, we use emotions as if we are reliving the event. We feel what is happening. On the other hand, when dissociated we are disconnected, we are using one of the perceptual positions.

Words as levels of detail – Are we using small or big chunks of information (talking small or big picture)? Are we mainly using abstract words (like nominalization) or very specific words? When using abstract words, we are looking at a big picture, and we know this is where we can do overwhelmed, seeing the puddle as an ongoing flood.

Words as existing anchors – Can we see a specific emotional response to certain words? Can we use that to get the spring needed to jump over that puddle.

Words as identification of frames – Are we using the famous but? Are we stuck into a frame, like into a box?

Words as patterns and strategies – Can we notice sequences of events in the information given that always come in the same order. Could this be a strategy? Is it a good strategy we could use later on? An incorrect one that we actually want to replace with another one, using some reframing? 

Words as values or beliefs – Can we recognize key words indicating values or beliefs, since we know we don’t want to keep our mind closed with beliefs…. especially limiting ones.

Words as information on meta-programs – Are we saying things the way we want them? Are we moving toward something with a focus.

Words as identification of levels of information at which we are thinking. Are we thinking environment, behaviours, capabilities, values and beliefs, identity or mission (also called purpose)? It’s important to separate identity and issue to bring choices, the same way that we often get crossed by simply taking something at the identity level when it’s meant at capability level (And yes you’re right, this is exactly what happens when we take something personally).

Recognising what is really said is another story… here we are talking about:

Congruency – the matching between verbal and non-verbal behaviour?

Hidden information – Yes, we are looking for the elephant in the room… better to say ‘Hi now’ than later when the elephant is soooo big we have been kicked out of the room…

Secondary gain – Secondary gain is a very interesting concept. This is when we believe we have actually more interests in staying in front of that puddle, rather than moving past it. We are right there under the control of our Gremlins… yeap, little greeny thing talking in our head, with various squeaky voices…

Cause versus effect – hum… a dark one… often linked to secondary gain…

So here we are… that damn gremlin talking into our head, sometimes fancy dressed as someone we know, sometimes just a greeny little thing, and bang! Now we have the right question. By listening, we are able to find the question whose answer can build the spring we need for that jump. And we can use this when working with others, we simply learn to hear what is not said.

It’s easy actually, go ahead just start now… start by listening how often you use the words ‘but’… and each time replace it with ‘and’…

See what that does for you 🙂 and let me know!

Finding the right question is a fascinating exercise and there are many tools for that, especially NLP tools, and yes when learning NLP we explore the verbal as much as the non-verbal, both have very valid information. We usually say that in communication, only 7% are about the words we choose. Now, you’re right once we have the right question, then we have the right actions, and then the right solutions or steps forward.

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