For those of you that have undertaken our training that work in the Aged Care sector, you will know that we advocate to do more asking and not so much ‘telling’ when we are working with our clients. Most of us recognize the serious adverse consequences of doing too much ‘telling’ and in the desire to be more of an asker it can sometimes be tricky to identify when it is appropriate or indeed beneficial to revert more to a ‘telling’ space.
As with all situations involving people, there is never a one size fits all answer and so we always advocate that you bring your professional judgment to the table like this in most instances will give you the best guidance. That said we are happy to share the following suggestions on the basis that they may add to your clarity when making the choice to ask or tell:
• Time pressures – whilst we are clear that lack of time should not be used as an excuse to not ask questions we are realistic and know that sometimes this will impact your choice to ask or tell. However, before you do jump in and tell please consider whether there is an opportunity to do any sort of follow-up with your client, whether it be face to face or over the phone, and extend the time you have with the client so that you can ask more questions.
• Information required – there will be times when you can ask the client for their ideas to achieve the outcomes they are looking for, recognizing that there will also be times when they are in need of the provision of information as they are simply not aware of the options available to them. It should be noted though that in these situations the information should be provided by way of ideas and suggestions so that they can assimilate the ideas for consideration, rather than be presented to the client as solutions.
• Intention to inform or ‘draw out’ – at a high level, during conversations we need to be conscious of what our intention with our responses is. By being conscious, we can think about our best response and choose to respond with a question or information, whichever we feel is best. If we are not conscious it is likely that our response will be to tell as most of us habitually do that. If you do not know whether they have any ideas about the subject, it is much better to start with a question on the basis that you can revert to a more telling approach if needed. Remember that if you start by telling it is very difficult to then revert to an asking space. So please don’t tell on the basis that you’re not sure if they have an answer – ask first and see!
• When asked – there will be instances when ‘telling’ (or making it be more about you) is a good thing to do especially when you are building trust, connection, and rapport. Indeed if they ask a question about you it can appear rude if you don’t respond, being mindful of respecting those professional boundaries of course. If they ask for ideas from you we suggest that you still try to question them to try to draw on their wisdom before providing advice. Remember that often they do have ideas – it is often their lack of confidence that makes them reluctant to share them. By you telling, you can exacerbate this.
I hope that this gives you more food for thought when deciding whether to ask or tell – remember there is never that one size fits all approach and being flexible and consciously choosing your response is what Potentialising is all about!