The best advice I have ever been given in my quest to be a Better Questioner is to listen as though I don’t exist. I confess that the first time I heard this advice I almost decided that I wouldn’t be able to practice the skill in real life because I could not imagine a time when I got myself out of the way. I had a realization at that point of exactly how much I was used to me being in the conversation and how ‘painful’ it felt at the thought of me not existing.
By way of clarification when I talk about me being in the conversation, I am not talking here about the need to be fully present, I am talking about the need for me to:
· Talk about me
· Provide advice and guidance because that made me feel good about myself
· Demonstrate my knowledge and wisdom in some way
I hope you can see from this clarification that there is a lot of EGO at play here and without realizing it the conversations I was having were really a lot about my need to get my ego stroked! Whilst we all have a need to get our egos stroked (whether we like it or not it seems to be a basic trait of most humans) I recall feeling extremely concerned that I was doing this at the expense of others having space to really be heard and resourceful.
Even with this awareness though, I could not imagine what it would feel like to be so humble that I didn’t exist in this way in a conversation and was extremely fearful of taking the step to do this. Nevertheless, I summoned the courage to take the step and give it a go, and of course, what I discovered was that there was no greater feeling than to realize that when you ‘step out of the space’ you actually create room for the other person to ‘step into it. It is the very act of you doing this that enables them to be resourceful and tap into their own wisdom and knowledge. Humility then is the key to unlocking the potential in others and it will be great for you to reflect on your willingness and ability to bring this enabling attribute to conversations with your staff.
What I have come to learn is that my ego still gets a stroke from that sense of self-satisfaction I get from being a Potentilaiser BUT it no longer comes from a need to talk about me or focus on my knowledge and wisdom. It comes from knowing that I have enabled someone else to be resourceful, amazing, and shine… and that of course this is what Potentialising is all about!