Endless Problems to Solve?– A very famous hypnotherapist once said, “Never believe in what the clients say, because if they really understand their problem, they could have solved it already.” Most people have trouble solving their problems because they do not know what the true problems are. Are you also one of them?
After I published my first book, The Art of Influencing Anyone , I was glad to find that some readers really sent me emails and told me what they thought. One reader told me that he liked the book a lot, and I was grateful. However, as I read on, it turned out that his true intention of writing in was not to praise me.
After a short paragraph of telling me how much he liked the book, he followed up with a question:
“Can you tell me how to increase my chance to get a promotion? I feel that I’m working very hard in my job, but my boss just doesn’t really appreciate it very much. I think I deserve something better. Can you suggest what I should do to increase my chance of promotion?”
Since he was a reader, I tried to be as helpful as possible, and gave him some general advice, and my advice actually made a lot of sense, too. In spite of this, this question actually made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
I often get this kind of questions after I finish a talk. Whenever I have done my talking, there’s often a Q&A session, and the audience usually ask me a lot of questions. However, in my humble opinion, those questions are not only meaningless, but also difficult to answer as well. Just like the above question, people may ask something like, “How can I increase my sales?” or “How can I get better at girls/boys?” The unfortunately thing is that this kind of questions is so vague that you have no idea where to begin.
For example, when you say “you cannot get a promotion in spite of your hard work”, there can be many reasons for that. Perhaps, you somehow pissed your boss off without knowing it. Perhaps, you are not very productive at all, even though you’ve worked very hard. Perhaps, you lack a very important skill that is required by your job, like speaking a language or knowing a software program. The people who ask such questions just expect the answerer to magically deduce their background like Sherlock Holmes without having to tell him any additional information at all.
For the reason, the best that the answerer can do is to speak from his personal experience, which may or may not be applicable to everyone else. In case if the asker really follows the advice, and ends up with some bad results, then he will blame the answerer despite his good intention, which is certainly not something either of them intends in the first place.
The trouble is that most people have no idea what their actual problem is, because everyone never reckons that his problem is a problem, for otherwise he would have already stopped doing it. For example, an outspoken employee never thinks that he is rude, because he is just “being true and candid to people”. Conversely, a boss who fails to keep his workers never realizes that he is paying too little to hire them, because he thinks “it’s the market price”.
This is why a very famous hypnotherapist once said, “Never believe in what the clients say, because if they really understand their problem, they could have solved it already.”
Let’s revisit the example at the beginning again. When the reader asked me “how to get a promotion”, it was clear that he had no idea why he couldn’t get one. Instead, he shall ask himself, “Why can’t I get a promotion despite my hard work?” If you think you are doing something right, but not getting the result, then it is obvious that you aren’t. Find out the problem and you will know where to starting working.
Suppose you find out it’s because you don’t have the necessary liaison skills that a manager should have, you may want to ask, “How can I acquire the necessary liaison skills that I need?” However, this is not the correct question to ask, because “having liaison skills” is not the outcome that you want. Rather, the outcome you want is to improve your relations with your colleagues. So, the true question you shall ask is, “How can I make myself more popular in my office in the shortest time possible?”
After you come up with a real question that you can work on, you shall continue to specify what you want: with whom do you want to improve the relation most urgently? Perhaps it’s a colleague you just offended in the past. Perhaps it’s someone from another team who never likes you very much. After you hone in on the true problem you face, you can start to ask the relevant people how to solve it.
In summary, whenever you want to ask for advice, you should always:
1. Identify your specific problem.
2. Identify your desired outcome.
3. Ask for concrete instructions to achieve it.
Only then, you can get some really useful advice and solve your problem.
To find out more tricks on how to become successful, please get a copy of my book, the Art of Influencing Anyone.