This week I received an email from a lady who had attended a workshop that we had run for Aged Care Professionals. I have shared a shortened version of the email here:
“Your course has helped me to see my job from an entirely different perspective. It has helped me to remove the feeling that it is my professional role or duty to solve people’s problems. This is a very powerful thing and I feel that I will be able to enjoy my position more, because I can now empower people to use their skills to solve their problems, through better questioning, without feeling the pressure to come up with solutions, etc.”
I admit that when I read this email I had tears in my eyes as it is clear that this person has clearly understood what it means to be a Potentialiser and a releaser of amazingness in others. One of the key messages that we share in all our books and workshops is that to be a great Potentialiser you do NOT always have to bring the answer to the table – indeed, when you do have an answer (or suggestion) it is more difficult to be an ‘asker’ rather than a ‘teller’ because you automatically want to share your ideas when you think you are helping the other person. Most people feel good about the idea of being helpful and so to change from being a ‘teller’ to an ‘asker’ is often challenging in the first instance.
However, one of the important things to remember in consciously changing to doing more asking is that by the act of ‘asking’ you are actually putting yourself under less pressure to always be an ‘expert’ who can be relied upon to always have an answer. Most people don’t realize that they have created reliance upon themselves to have to provide answers, particularly those people in traditional helping professions, as well as those in roles that hold more ‘power’, such as managers, parents, or people in ‘expert’ roles.
Whilst there is no doubt that traditionally a lot of roles have been undertaken from the ‘telling’ space, which in turn means there is often an expectation that you will ‘tell’, the issue of managing expectations of yourself without disappointing the other person can usually be managed fairly easily through some open communication. Once the other person appreciates your intent in asking questions it does free you up to step more into being an ‘asker’, which in turn means that there is less pressure on you.
Another person that demonstrated that they had really embraced the Potentialiser role advised me that when working with a colleague she recognized that previously she would have felt burdened by a request for assistance and felt like she needed to take ownership of the problem, but now knew it was OK to support the person to own the problem rather than take ownership off them. I get so inspired when I hear comments like this and of course know that in the process of the ‘asker’ being willing to be less pressured and let go of having to be an expert, most importantly, we are giving the talker the opportunity to be empowered and fulfill more of their amazingness – how good is that?