Get the Answers You Need in Confusing Situations

When you take risks and operate with integrity; when you consider other people's needs as well as your own; when you think about long term situations instead of short-term gains; and when you really tell the truth; you can achieve amazing results.

Learning to do this well requires skill and practice. This is especially true when you need information in a confusing situation. It's especially true when you're in a situation where a misstep can cause real problems.

The following steps will help you practice the skills you need to achieve results and gain respect in the workplace.

1. Before you ask anything, gather as much information as you can about a situation by careful observation.

* Listen to the topics that are discussed
* Notice topics that are not discussed.
* Pay attention to nonverbal clues-posture, tone of voice
* Notice relative power positions of the people present in the situation-even furniture placement and seating arrangements.

2. Think about what additional information you need to better understand the situation. Look for the missing pieces.

3. Use your intuition. What is your hunch or guess about what is going on? What do you wish you knew?

4. Ask questions only when you are truly unsure of what the answers will be.

5. Listen carefully to the answers that are presented to you. Give it your full attention.

Ask clarifying questions only if you cannot understand the answer you are hearing. Wait until the answer is complete before you comment on it.

Treat everyone with respect – avoid being condescending in any way.

6. Never ask a question when you are already sure what the answer is. The only reason to do this is to catch someone else doing something wrong. If you do this, others will sense it and feel resentful or put down, even if you think you are being subtle.

7. Be willing to be vulnerable. Take responsibility for your own mistakes or lack of information. In this situation, saving face (your own) is not nearly as important as helping others save face!

8. If you feel attacked or challenged by the answer to one of your questions,
do not defend yourself. Respond by stating your understanding of what was said. Ask if your understanding is accurate.

9. Keep asking questions until you are sure you understand what you need to know about the situation, and as long as others are willing to respond to you.

10. Thank everyone who is present.

If you enjoyed this article The Integrity Course will provide much more information I believe will be useful to you. Included in this course are stories of how over 25 people confronted issues about integrity in the workplace.

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