Ep35: Want-Shaming Free Zone

Have you ever asked someone a question – a deeper question that gets at who they really are – and received an “I don’t know” in return? This episode is all about the really good conversations that are possible when you ask – in just the right way – who a person is and what their dreams are.


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Why is that important for business?

Sometimes, the best conversations are the ones you have to keep plugging away at.  You are guaranteed to fail the first few times you try to get to the good conversation, but what you get – from your partners, your coworkers, your employees, or your clients – can change everything.

You may have to ask people things in different ways to get to their real response. It can, for instance, be easier to articulate what you don’t want than what you do want initially. You can’t always walk through the front door of learning; you have to find different ways in. This involves a real commitment to communication; it means fundamentally wanting to know what matters to someone else.

When you do finally get to the real answers, often you will also find “want shame” – what people really want, they are often embarrassed to say. It is a vulnerable thing, to say what you really want, and most people aren’t going to give that up to someone the first time they ask. It requires a lot of trust.

If you are asking someone what they want, and you aren’t being genuinely curious, or you have an idea of what you want the answer to be, then don’t ask. If you get a response, part of your obligation of having pursued that response is – as it is in improv – “yes, and”.

Start conversations because you want to understand the filter through which they view their experience because that’s the wellspring of satisfaction. Seek first to understand; be curious. Stop short of making guesses about their behavior.

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