Ask the Right Questions to Get the Right Answers

Ask the Right Questions to Get the Right Answers 150 150 Christy Largent

This article is a follow on from my suggestion on how to take the first steps in creating a more positive mindset.

We talked about noticing what you are thinking and saying out loud. Especially about yourself.

Oftentimes, there will be a lot of judgement, negativity, a critical spirit and over use of generalizations.

Before I give you the way to turn this train around, I thought I would take a moment and answer a few questions.

Question 1: “This is just who I am. I can’t change.”

Let me gently remind you that actually, you can change. Good news!

No less a luminary than Stanford professor, and Mindset expert, Carol Dweck, PhD says “Human qualities, such as intellectual skills, can be cultivated through effort.” As I told my Amelia last night, changing the way you think isn’t easy. But it can be done with effort.

Question 2: “Why should I do all that hard work? I’m just not sure it’s worth it.”

In answer to that, let me share with you some benefits of changing your mindset from negative to positive…

  • Less anxiety & depression
  • More effective coping
  • Higher life satisfaction & increased well being
  • Stronger immune system
  • Recover from surgery more quickly
  • Adapt better to negative life events
  • Don’t give up easily
  • Action oriented when faced with problems…(and that’s just a few of them!)
  • How does that sound to you? Wouldn’t you like more of those benefits in your life?

OK, I’m going to give you the first part of the system I created to help move me into opportunity when I find myself focusing on the obstacles. Ready? Let’s go!

I call it the SWITCH method. And yes, each letter stands for an action.

S = See the Reality.

You’ve already been doing this over the past week. You’ve noticed what’s coming out of your mouth and what you’re thinking that leads to what you are saying. It’s interesting isn’t it? And it’s the first step you must do if you want to SWITCH into an Opportunity Mindset.

W = The 5 W’s.

You know how you can ask open ended questions to keep a conversation going? It’s the same here. I want you to ask yourself the 5 Ws about what’s really going on. Turn it into a question that will give you insight to the situation.

  • Who’s involved with this situation?
  • What is really going on here?
  • What would be a more effective conversation?
  • What can I do to change this situation for the better?
  • What can I do to get a better outcome next time?
  • When did I start thinking this way?
  • Where did I get that idea?

I’m going to stop there. Before the Why. Why can easily turn into a dead end question, and will get you the wrong answer.

Did you know that your brain is an answer seeking machine? That’s right. When you ask a question, your brain goes to work finding an answer in the affirmative to that question. And that’s the reason “why” questions can be so dangerous.

For example – “Why am I so stupid?” Can easily become a mission of self sabotage as the brain goes to work finding reasons you’re stupid, and next thing you know, you’re doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone while talking on the phone, and when you see the flashing lights behind your car, your brain goes, Ohhhhh, THAT’S why I’m so stupid.”

Instead, at this point stay away from why, and stick with results oriented questions like the ones above.

This is getting long!  So this week, try some question asking after you notice what you’re saying, and see if you can redirect your thoughts in a more positive and productive way.

In my next article, I’ll give you the rest of the SWITCH method…or at least the next few steps!

Christy Largent is a positivity expert and professional speaker. She is hired by corporations and associations that want their employees/members to boost morale, increase teamwork and strengthen communication skills. When she’s not speaking or writing, she’s practicing her stand up skills sitting down, driving her 2 kids to tennis and lacrosse events all across the Dallas metroplex.