POSITIVE INTENT

Don’t Solve Their Problem. Ask a Question Instead.

Great questions, good questions, dumb questions — any question is more useful than your opinion.

James Ryan Leonard
May 27, 2019 · 8 min read

Don’t solve their problem. Ask a question instead.

This can feel counterintuitive at first, and it’s especially challenging when you’re feeling overwhelmed with life and work and you just need to get this person situated so you can move on to other things.

The mantra of positive intent

The foundation of positive intent is a mantra of two core questions:

How can I help?

What can I learn?

In every difficult situation, with any challenge that arises, ask yourself, “How can I help?” Try to find some way to make the situation better or move things forward.

Ask dumb questions

Great questions can be revelatory, even life-changing. But don’t underestimate the value of a dumb question asked at just the right time.

… what do you mean when you say [word or phrase]?”

… who are we doing/making this for?”

… what are you trying to accomplish?”

These are seemingly basic questions, but give your full attention to their answer, and focus clearly on your response. Once they articulate their position, you’ll be ready to move from your dumb question and into a great question, which can open their mind to new possibilities.

Your first step: Don’t start with ‘why’

In his famous TED Talk (and book), Simon Sinek tells us to start with “why.”

The habit of positive intent

Adopting a life of positive intent is simple, but it is not easy. It requires consistent self-analysis, and it requires the identification of bad habits and the creation of good habits.

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James Ryan Leonard

Written by

Author and leadership coach. Public relations professional. Purveyor of positive intent.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +785K followers.

James Ryan Leonard

Written by

Author and leadership coach. Public relations professional. Purveyor of positive intent.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +785K followers.

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