Four Ineffective and Old Questions We Ask Ourselves and Four New Questions We Should Be Asking Instead

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Marilee Adams' first book focused on the questions we should ask ourselves to move forward instead of remaining stuck in ruts. In her latest book, she applies the same question-based methodology to educational approaches and teaching.

Many of the difficult situations we find ourselves in can best be analyzed and overcome by stopping to assess one’s own mindset. We could be coming from either a “Judger mindset” (close-minded and critical) or a “Learner mindset” (open-minded and discerning). Because of the natural tendency to lapse into Judger mindset, we tend to ask ourselves the same old limiting questions with the same old disappointing results. Here are some examples of common (Judger) questions and why they don’t work - and what (Learner) questions you should be asking yourself instead:

1. A Question We Normally Ask Ourselves: “Why don’t things ever seem to work out for me?”
The Question We Should Ask Instead: “What do I want-for both myself and others?” We often neglect thinking about what we want in a particular situation or just thoughtlessly jump into action. Nevertheless, continuously asking oneself about goals and intentions is the “true north” of effective behaviors and satisfying outcomes. Otherwise, we’re primed to get what we don’t want! Of course, thinking about others as well as ourselves makes the win-win difference.

2. A Question We Normally Ask Ourselves: “Why isn’t that person responding to me the way I wanted them to?”
The Question We Should Ask Instead: “Am I in Learner mindset or Judger mindset right now? People often don’t recognize the impact of their own mindset on others and end up wondering why they don’t get the responses they wanted. Learning to simply notice your own mindset in a neutral, non-judgmental way, moment by moment, is the basis of being free to have the best communications and relationships as well as to make the most effective choices. If you discover you’re in Judger mindset, you can choose to switch to Learner instead. To learn about the power of mindsets, click here for a free online tool that includes a video, interviews and an informational PDF.

3. A Question We Normally Ask Ourselves: “Why won’t this rude person listen to me?”
The Question We Should Ask Instead: “Am I listening with Learner ears or Judger ears?” People often don’t understand why others don’t listen to them. Yet we seldom question whether we’re listening ourselves or even how we’re listening. The ability to identify which mindset we are listening fromhelps us identify and alter our listening so that communication can be more productive and satisfying for everyone. If you notice you’re feeling either defensive or angry, you may be listening with Judger ears.

4. A Question We Normally Ask Ourselves: “How can I prove I’m right?”
The Question We Should Ask Instead: “What assumptions am I making?” Our aim is often to prove ourselves right or even to prove the other person wrong. Sadly, we’re all familiar with what happens when someone is on such a mission-self-righteousness, oppositional stalemates, anger, and conflict. Continually questioning one’s assumptions is a core discipline of the most effective thinking and problem-solving. Searching for and challenging assumptions also empowers one’s ability to listen with Learner ears.

5. The Question We Normally Ask Ourselves: “Who or what is stopping me from getting what I want?”
The Question We Should Ask Instead: “Who do I choose to be in this moment?" Assuming that circumstances or other people control your life makes it all but impossible to take responsibility for oneself. Personal power begins with claiming authorship of our own lives, and that’s why, regardless of the circumstances, this fifth question is always the crucial one; it places each of us directly in the present moment as the prime mover of our own experiences, relationships and outcomes.