Don’t forget to ask, “Who?”

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone says, “I’ve been hearing…”?  Or, “I’ve been getting complaints about…”  Usually a sentence like these ends with something negative.  Come to think of it, a sentence like that always ends in something negative.  What should you do next when you hear this?

Your immediate thought is situations like this is likely, how can I fix that or prevent it from happening.  Right?  But, maybe the more important question is, “who” has the person making these startement been hearing this from?  Client?  Employees?  Who exactly raised the issue?  By now, you’ve no doubt guessed where I’m going with this.  You see, the who is usually the person right in front of you in that meeting.

So, don’t forget to ask who the “who” is.  Just remember to ask it to yourself.  Asking the person speaking at a meeting with a question like that probably isn’t career extending, but there is a solution.  Ask the person saying, “I’ve been hearing…” something much more simple.  Simply ask them what their opinion as to what they solution to the issue is.  Better yet, ask them what they think the cause of the issue is.  You see, it’s their opinion that was behind this whole red herring exercise in the first place, so peeling away the covers exposes what you actually need to know.

Stop chasing red herrings and start focusing on the “who”?

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