The Most Powerful Question

 In Blog, Effective Dialogue, Enjoy Life Your Way, Living Organizations

(Time to read: ~3 minutes)

It was happening again.

The sound scraped across Gloria’s nerve endings like fingernails on a chalkboard.

But what could she do about it?

Over the years she had tried so many different things, but nothing worked.

What Didn’t Work

She tried not saying anything – but then ended up exploding and yelling. Afterward she felt uncomfortable around the people she’d yelled at, and they said unpleasant things to her.

She tried speaking nicely, explaining her situation and asking for support. But people got tired of her frequent requests and started ignoring them.

Then some new people moved in across the hall. Gloria was determined to do something different this time. But what?

The Most Powerful Question

Actually the most powerful question is two questions. And I love that they apply equally to work and personal life.

The first question is “What do I want?”

Gloria’s Answers to the First Question

Gloria’s first answer to “What do I want?” was obvious. She wanted peace and quiet!

But as we explored deeper, she realized that she wanted several other things also:

  • She wanted to have friendly relations with her neighbours.
    She wanted to feel happy and relaxed when she met them in the hallway. She wanted them to feel the same.
  • She wanted to feel good about herself and her behaviour.
    She cringed when she remembered some of the things she had done. And she felt sad and anxious when she thought about some of the things her neighbours had said. She didn’t want to feel that way any more.
  • She wanted to increase her tolerance to sounds.
    She recognized that, living in the city, she was going to be exposed to a certain amount of “everyday life” sounds from the people living around her.
    There were many things she enjoyed about living in the city, so she wanted to become more comfortable with these “everyday” sounds, as part of enjoying her life more fully.

The Second Question

The second question is “What can I do to get what I want?”

I wish there was a way to make that “I” really stand out.

Because whenever there’s something you don’t like, the immediate reaction for most of us is to look “out there” for what other people could or should do differently so that you can have what you want.

I think it is hard-wired into our biology.

So for years Gloria had been trying to get her neighbours to be more quiet.

But when she asked herself what SHE could do differently to get what she wanted, some surprising answers emerged.

Gloria’s Answers to the Second Question

Gloria continues to work with this question. And these are the answers she’s come up with so far:

  • To have friendly relations with her neighbours, she realized she wanted them to have more positive experiences with her than they received requests about sound.
    So she consciously set about creating those positive experiences, and is increasing her collection of strategies for this over time.
    These include things as simple as:
    – Greeting each neighbour warmly with a smile when she meets them,
    – Inquiring about topics of interest in their lives, and
    – Expressing empathy, appreciation, and good wishes for the things that matter to them.
  • To both feel better about herself, and to increase her tolerance to sound, she came up with a joint set of strategies:
    They include:
    – A particular breathing pattern she uses when she starts to feel stressed
    – Naming her feelings as she breathes
    – Consciously replacing the “automatic” thoughts that come up when she hears a sound she doesn’t enjoy with different, more positive thoughts
    – Using my “Change Conversation” process when she does decide to raise a sound issue with a neighbour.

She appreciates the combination of personal empowerment and effectiveness she gains when she uses the Change Conversation process. She’s noticed that it has increased her self-confidence, which has made her more tolerant of sound.

She has also been amazed at the difference these approaches have made in the care and consideration she experiences from others.

Where can these questions help you?

Is there a situation in your life that you aren’t enjoying and would like to be different?

  • What do you want?
  • And what can you do to help get that?

Support is available

I offer four different options to help people get what they want in their professional and personal lives:

  1. The “Mastering Peacefully Successful Communication” group program is a way to
    – Learn simple, powerful tools to help improve your relationships with others
    – Build skill in using those tools – in a positive, supportive, encouraging environment
    – Connect with others who are learning and practicing these skills.
    Click here to learn more
  2. Have a specific situation you want to improve?
    Schedule a one-on-one coaching session focused on that
  3. Tired of having negative emotions run your life?
    I offer a combination of one-on-one coaching sessions and video training to help you learn to
    – Extract the wisdom from any negative emotion, and
    – Shift to feeling positive, hopeful and creative – so you can enjoy your life more fully.
    Schedule your first one-on-one coaching session to get started
  4. Not sure what you need?
    Book a free consultation to clarify your priorities and identify your next step

I Wish You Pleasure

I wish you a life filled with all kinds of pleasure.
The pleasure of play. The pleasure of all kinds of self-care. The pleasure of warm and positive connection with the people in your life. And the pleasure of knowing that you are making a positive contribution to life.


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