Two hands: one showing Scissors and one showing Rock from the childhood game

This is a better question for getting perspective to make a decision

I’ve started to replace a common question with something a bit different.

I love making decisions informed by consensus. As I’ve gotten older and taken on different roles, I’ve made it a point to be more decisive and clear in being responsible for the final decision. But perhaps from my journalism roots, I commonly want to get other people’s opinions on a matter.

It’s important to understand their vantage point: in a leadership function, you are responsible for having a wider understanding of a situation. But with the right balance, knowing more focused opinions are crucial.

But I think there’s a better question than simply: “what’s your opinion on this?”

Another evolution of that question is “what would you do if you were me?” I think that’s a good attempt, and it’s something I ask often, particularly for the right circumstance.

You’re challenging someone else to put themselves in your position. Sometimes that is a very effective way of framing the question.

But when my goal is to inform myself, there’s a newer approach I’m trying. I ask: “tell me why you would and why you wouldn’t agree with this decision.”

It’s effectively asking them to show their math, in the grammar school spirit of having to show your work on a math problem to get partial credit. The logic there was if you show your teacher you know how to approach a problem but make a more minor mistake, you deserve credit.

In this sense, I often want someone to give me their perspective but if I want to remove some of their bias and to give me information and vantage point I don’t have this is a far more effective way to get there.

(Photo via Unsplash)