What should be said instead of “the fool himself!” Or 4 stories about the power of one question

    We are preparing a new program for working with people with my colleague slavapankratov , and we decided to add a separate large module about the ability to ask questions to it. Why exactly about this - there are several stories on this subject, how we discovered the ability to ask the right questions.

    And today the first series is about a question that not only allows redirecting a person’s discontent into a constructive channel, but can also serve as the beginning of many years of cooperation between people who at first didn’t really like each other.

    It all started back in 2007, when I decided to do my first training. From this activity, by the way, the book “Secrets of Programmer Management” was born then (posted for free in this book package, requires registration), but now is not about that. Or rather, not quite about that.

    In 2007, I accidentally got into a training on how to do trainings. Honestly, I used to treat such activities as selling air, but I stuck my skepticism into a special skepticism and just started to do what the presenter said. Clear business, trying to apply common sense.

    It is said to make the announcement of the training program - you do. It is said, to recruit 50 people for a free online training - you type. They say not to pay attention to criticism - you sigh, drink brandy, try not to pay. They say to conduct a 2-week online training - come on, feel free to conduct. That's how they write a book - not a question. This is how discs with courses are made - everything is clear.

    In general, after 3 months, I turned out to be the author of a training with the herbalife title “How to programmer manager to double his salary, make a career and start living”, recorded audio course, text of the book, the first live training held and a big question, what to do with all this further.


    They said further that it was necessary to put the audio course on sale. I honestly posted it on my page. In the first three months, two buyers came. Such a powerful stream of customers has called into question the existence of the entire training business. Which was rather annoying - because a lot of work was done in the first 3 months, and the main thing was the feeling that there was a movement.

    And suddenly, lo and behold, a page caught my eye, the author of which claimed that he had a newsletter for 100,000 IT specialists. One hundred thousand! IT! Specialists!

    The most cautious estimates showed that if we can agree, then a golden rain will pour on us, we will buy new cars and, perhaps, even a little bit will remain.

    I immediately wrote the author of the newsletter a powerful semantic letter “they say you have a bride, I have a bridegroom, let's sell my course through your newsletter”, I secured the urge to try, wrote a letter, the author sent this letter out of my mailing list, after which minutes of pleasant waiting began.

    After a short time, it became clear that there would be no rain. Not that gold, not even silver. And it seems that nothing will happen at all. In short, 5 sales happened. After which, the author of the newsletter wrote me a letter in the spirit: “Well, I thought that nothing would come of it” and left so that we would meet in a year.

    The mailing author was a colleague slavapankratov , who at that time heroically managed Kiev Yandex and led the it4business.ru portal, which owned the newsletter.

    Over the next year, I managed to write dozens of articles, speak at a couple of conferences, hold three paid trainings, mistakenly take this as a good sign and quit Intel to spend the first four months swimming freely in the 2008 crisis. And most importantly - during this time, I translated my website made in plain HTML to WordPress. For me, it was such a quality leap that I didn’t even change the standard WordPress design (white with blue), because it was many times better than plain HTML that I created myself.

    As it turned out later, a colleague slavapankratovperiodically monitored the activities of his failed partner, and even read my articles. But since the design of WordPress made him a little nauseous, his colleague subscribed to RSS and read articles through an RSS reader. Until he broke down with me.

    Apparently, at this moment he was in a bad mood, or in Kiev the weather was not very, or the day was not set. I don’t know what was there, but I received a letter about the following content:

    Alexander, I like your articles, but why do you have such a ugly site? RSS also broke. I don’t really understand how IT can be taught by a person who ...

    My first reaction was to explain that they say the fool himself. But a person who teaches communication and people management cannot answer like that. As you know, parenting by example is not the best way of parenting. This is the only way.

    Therefore, having breathed a little, I gave birth to the following wording:

    Honestly, I just don’t know how to change the design and what about RSS. [It should be noted that this was true.] And how would I fix this and put another design?

    Either colleague slavapankratov realized that it would be longer to explain to me than to do it myself ... Or he decided to just help. His version, which was embarrassing, had run into a stranger, whose articles he liked. But then the dialogue turned out to be something like this:

    - Let's dock in skype, I will screw you a couple of designs, and you look, is it or is it not?
    - No problem. Here is the access to the FTP site. Q ... Will it be convenient to call on Skype?
    - Agreed!

    Honestly, there was nothing extra secret on the site, especially since I had his backups. Therefore, I was not at all afraid for his safety :)

    We docked with slavapankratov on Skype, he screwed several designs, we chose the best. This design is still hanging on my site. But the main thing is that we have the first joint successful experienced experience. And this is one of the milestones after which a group of people becomes a team.

    But - the main thing BUT of this article. All this happened due to the fact that one of the parties at a key moment, instead of cursing, said:


    And this is the very question that unfolds dissatisfaction in the constructive. You can say: all right ... Well, we have one more story.

    A story from real life. In 2012, we decided to hold distributed conferences. The idea was very simple - people gather in groups in different cities. In one of these cities, a speaker speaks, and people listen to him at local venues. And then after the report they actively communicate with the local community.

    This idea ultimately resulted in a mega-project with distributed conferences and seminars (which came to us over 10,000 people from ~ 100 cities), we got hold of studios for HD broadcasts in Kiev and St. Petersburg, from scratch we wrote minute scripts of dozens of seminars and etc. But the first version was, to say the least. far from perfect.

    Poor broadcast quality, lack of video in normal quality, the unavailability of some speakers - in general, there were enough problems. At some point to a colleague A participant in our conference from Donetsk knocked on Skype on slavapankratov . And then he began to tell how much $% ^ # we are doing our conferences. What is the complete * &% $, and especially the broadcast, which is generally% $ ^ #.

    It was that rare day when slavapankratov was in a good-natured mood. Therefore, instead of feedback in the style of: “All the best, goodbye,” he unexpectedly issued:

    “Listen, can you make a list of things that we can fix?” And then we will phone, and you will tell.
    - Uh, give me an hour and a half.
    - Agreed.

    An hour and a half later, a man brought in a phoning list of 30 items. Sensible points, how can we improve our project. If you think about it, it actually sounds unrealistic. A person from the outside spent free an hour and a half of his time, energy and brain to make our business project better!

    And it all ended with the fact that we offered him a job, and a colleague puzzlew became the technical director of Stratoplan, where in 2 years of his work he managed to do a lot of irreparable harm to all of us.

    And again, everything was decided by the same question: OK, HOW SHOULD IT BE?

    Of course, not every time we ask this question, it ends with cooperation and a long family life working together. For example, there was such a story: A

    story from real life.In 2012, we decided to make certificates to students of our online programs. Are we an adult training center? We must have certificates! Especially since we promised them ... But since there was a mess in Stratoplan at that time , there was still a complete adhocracy with which we are still struggling, we approached the issue of certificates about six months after they promised them.

    As a result, we bought such a fun design: spilled milk on a yellow background. (The spouse did not miss the opportunity to sarcastically clarify whether this milk is accurate.) They planted our operations director Natasha, who drove the names of hundreds of customers with her hands, and sent out certificates to everyone! Hooray, the task is completed, a stone from the soul. There it was.

    We work with the IT public. And that means what? Correctly, this means that you must always be prepared to receive your portion of criticism. In response to our hilarious certificates, we received several letters of approximately the following content:

    What is this? .. I am ashamed to show this certificate to my employer. :( And you worked on this for six months? I am disappointed - our student wrote to us.

    Damn it, it was pretty annoying to hear that! After all, we honestly did this task, we spent a lot of time on it. And after that, get a negative review in your face - but I want to explain who the fool is here, to be honest ...

    But it’s worth noting that if five people wrote this, then they thought the same fifty more, but did not write. And as psychologists tell us, something good a person will tell 3-5 to his acquaintances, and something bad 7-12. This means that there is a problem - I don’t want to upset fifty of my clients at all.

    Exhaling a little, we wrote this answer:

    Good afternoon! Obviously, with this certificate we did not fall into your expectations. [This is a fairly obvious thought.]

    Please tell me which certificate I would like to receive?

    You will not believe - in response we got practically SPECIFICATION (we work with IT-specialists):

    1. The certificate must be serious
    2. In English
    3. With the name of the course
    4. With the number of hours listened
    5. With signatures
    6. With a stamp

    It turned out to be very convenient. We just gave this specification to the designer. He, with a little rustling, gave the layout. We sent this layout for approval to the author of the specification. Having received her approval, they redid the certificates for everyone. And they sent them again. We received many thanks from those who did not write anything like: “Oh, it's much better - not what you sent last time.”

    Since then, we have been living with this design of certificates. Later, @ puzzle-w wrote a certificate generator so as not to fill them out manually - in general, everything worked out. Thanks to the same time-asked question: “OK, HOW DO I NEED TO?”

    After we repeatedly discovered this question in our life, I heard about it as a technique of psychological aikido as set out by our negotiating expert Dima Kotkin ( hisvideo about pressure confrontation was remembered by many Khabrovites).

    A story from real life. At the time of history, Dima worked in the campaign headquarters of one candidate for governor of St. Petersburg (which the candidate won in the elections). It so happened that the phones of the entire campaign headquarters were in the public domain. Obviously, there was a leak from the company of the mobile operator.

    Dimin the boss set him a task something like this:

    “So the phones have already leaked.” But this is not good of them. Therefore, call the operator, let them provide us with some kind of discount or somehow compensate.

    Dima prepared for the conversation, worked out a plan, got himself into a fight. He dials a number - on the other side, the chief for servicing corporate clients picks up the phone:

    - Good afternoon
    ! - Good! The telephone numbers of our headquarters leaked from you
    - Yes, we already conducted an investigation and found the one to blame - this is our employee Maria Ivanova. Now we are thinking how to punish her. Here's what you think - how do we punish her?
    “... Well, I don’t know, maybe fine her?”
    - A fine is an idea, yes. Or maybe dismiss her - what do you think?
    - No, well, why dismiss something right away? She, maybe not on purpose ...
    - You think, not to dismiss? I think so too. Then fine. Thanks for calling.
    - ...

    At this moment, Dima says - he felt that there is no longer a desire to fight and get discounts. They had already listened attentively to him, accepted his advice, showed him their respect - it seems like it’s awkward to run into now.

    Instead of a conclusion. As you understand, the question is “OK. What to do? ”Is not a silver bullet. And it certainly does not always work. In our practice, it worked when it was time to take a break, think, understand why a person is dissatisfied, and then the question itself taxes into a construct.

    If you have had situations when it was possible to switch the discussion with this question - write, we will receive additional confirmation + replenish our collection of cases and stories.

    If not, then the next time someone comes to you who is unhappy with something, try to ask this question. Perhaps with this person you will then be connected by a successful joint future.

    PS In the next article we think to continue the topic of questions.

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