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Jul 29
2015

Ask “What Do You Want To Do?”

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I share with clients that a decision requires a yes, no, or I need more information. Once that point passes, you reach an awkward stage in which you are afraid to push forward and the other person is hesitant to commit.  When I reach this stage, I outline the choices and ask, “What do you want to do?” Then, I wait for an answer.

The silence creates an environment where the other person feels increasingly pressured to speak. This tends to get you an answer. If the response is non-committal ask, “Given those options, what do you want to do?”

I was buying something off Craig’s List and offered the seller $100 cash for the item. The seller kept talking without giving me an answer to my $100 offer. I repeated, “Would you accept $100.” The response was “How about $120?” My response was simple: “One hundred is what I can pay. Is that agreeable or not?” Then I was silent.  Finally, I got a yes, paid the money and drove home with my purchase.

At times I have negotiated with a staff person over salary or other issues. When I reach the line I need to hold, I ask; “What do you want to do?” If they want time to think something over, I give them time; but I set a deadline for the answer.

One problem that occurs when you do not ask this question is that the other person tends to drift.  The Craig’s list fellow may have been secretly waiting for another call from an interested party. He came to understand my $100 offer would disappear soon, so he needed to decide.

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” (1 Kings 18:21, NIV) In this instance Elijah understood that silence was indecision. They responded by not trusting the Lord. By posing a question that demanded a decision, Elijah created the environment for action.

When you want to bring another person to a decision, ask; “What do you want to do?” Then, use silence as your friend. Even if you get a no, you understand that investing more time on the issue is unwise.

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