Have you ever paid attention to what question you ask yourself in your head most frequently?
Does is start with What, Why, Who or How? Add the 1st word of your ‘internal question’ to the Comments Section so you can see how you compare to everyone else! We’ll come back to this in a minute…
Have you ever decided you were interested in purchasing a new car and then realized you started seeing that exact car everywhere?
Is it that they weren’t there before or that you are just now noticing them?
You are right, they have always been there but now you see them!
The reason you see them is because your reticular activating system (RAS), has now been triggered to transfer that information from your subconscious to your conscious mind. The best way I have heard this bundle of neural connections described, is as a night club bouncer. This little part of your brain selects what is most important and what you should pay attention to. You are bombarded with millions of inputs and messages every second but research indicates that the conscious mind can only handle about 100 pieces of information per second. So your RAS has a lot of quick decisions to make. If you want to learn more about RAS here is a Simple Video on RAS that puts it into laymen’s terms.
So, why is it important to know what the RAS is? And what does seeing cars have to do with getting users to engage with a new piece of technology? And what does it matter what question you ask yourself most often?
It is important for you to know what RAS is because you can leverage this part of the brain to activate what your subconscious becomes aware of, such as a certain kind of car, by asking better questions.
BRAIN HACK: If you want to notice all the opportunities available to you or notice all the ways you are being successful change the questions you ask yourself everyday.
I tend to ask myself “Why” questions but “Why” questions are always answered with “Because…” this leads to ‘same as always thinking’. “Because” statements often give away power, “because of my boss”, “because so and so didn’t”, “because I have to take care of my kids”, or “because I am not good enough, smart enough, strong enough”, etc.
Asking questions such as:
- What are all the ways I could _______ today?
- I wonder how ________ would ________ change things for me?
- Who are the people best suited to help me accomplish ________?
Activates your RAS to be on the look out. Just like you weren’t aware of the car prior to driving it but then you start seeing it everywhere, your RAS now realizes the answer to these questions are important and therefore all relative options are transported from your subconscious to your conscious, opening up opportunities you thought weren’t previously there.
Once you can see how to apply this concept for yourself, the question becomes how do we activate this in others? And how do we activate it specifically so they can adopt whatever new software technology you need or want them to use?
The answer is the same: Ask better questions!
Your conversations and emails of “letting people know the plan” can be transformed by changing the communications from telling to asking.
Let me give you an example of some questions you should be asking your stakeholders:
- Instead of “What does success look like on this project?”
- Say, “I want you to wonder for a few minutes, after this system is in place, how is your life different? What are all the ways the lives of the users are different? How do the users feel using the new system?”
Tip – Have them write it down, put their name on it and sign it- this will improve the likelihood they will take ownership of making this vision a reality!
- Instead of “Why aren’t you using the new system?” or for that resistant sales guy who thinks he shouldn’t have to change his current way of doing things cause he’s the rainmaker
- Say “At a minimum, what specifically would the system need to do in order for you to try it?”
- Or “I was wonder how using the new system would change things for you for the better. What do you think?”
Too often we are focusing on why they won’t, can’t, or shouldn’t have to…so not only are we asking better questions, we are changing the focus to what they can do.
If you want someone to do something, ask a question that has 2 Yeses!
Tip: This works great for parenting too!
Example: Instead of asking my 4 year old daughter to go get dressed, I ask her “Which dress are you going to put on the red one or the green one?” Or “Do you want to put on your sock first or your jacket?”
For the sales guy who won’t use the system instead of telling him, “You have to use the system or you won’t get paid your commissions.” You could say, “You can enter your call reports in the car immediately following the sales call from your mobile device or in the office from your computer, which do you prefer?”
- Instead of “This is why we are implementing this new software and what we expect of you.”
- Try “You all are high achievers, it is for this reason, we want to know from you specifically all the ways this implementation could benefit you in your daily jobs. Please email us by end of business with 1 or 2 things you could do to help make this project a success.”
Stretch Yourself Challenge: Try this for the next 30 minutes, instead of making definitive statements change to questions and see if your brain starts noticing all the way _____, notice how just the right people show up at just the right time, and notice how new doors of opportunity swing open to help you achieve your desired outcome!