9 out of 10 Questions Don’t Need an Answer

Do you sense that some questions are not really questions because you sense that the question is  piggy-backing another meaning than that indicated by the words. Research in “Synectics”, a process of problem solving, has shown that nine out of ten questions that people ask are seeking something other than information. The “something” people are seeking is recognition, stimulation or demonstrating that they’re “one-up” on the person called upon to answer. Based on what motivates questioners, questions can be classified into three categories:

·   Message questions     

Questions Comments Concerns Customer Support Diagram

 ·   Getcha questions

·   Answer-Seeking questions

Message Questions

A message question is one in which the asker is using a question to present an idea, state a conviction or share information. Sometimes message questions are statements without the raised tone of voice that signals a question. Program moderators try to guard against message question when they say, “No statements, only questions.”

Usually when that happens, message senders are a little more skillful in phrasing what they have to say as a question. Message questions begin with phrases such as, “Don’t you think,” “Have you ever considered,” “Since” and “What would happen if.” The asker of the message question is looking for affirmation of his position or idea.

Message questions account for about 45 percent of questions asked. An effective way to deal with the message question is to agree with it, thereby stroking or affirming the asker. When the idea or opinion is unacceptable, it is important to personally recognize the asker in some way. For example, you can say, “I sense that you have given this a great deal of thought and have some feelings about it. I share your concern, and my thinking is. . .”

     Getcha Questions

The getcha question is used to reveal a blemish in the speaker or his question. The goal of the getcha questioner is to be “one up” by making the answerer appear inadequate, show anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, or anger. The getcha questioner is trying to toss somebody else his or her hot potato of anger, fear or woe. And,  people who catch the hot potato may change it from anger to anxiety or get angry themselves.

Getcha questions often begin with “Why” or “How come” and they account for about 45 percent of questions asked. Getcha questions are actually games in a behavioral sense. Because games are predictable, it’s not necessary to become defensive and fall into the trap set by the getcha questioner.

There are a variety of ways of dealing with these hot potatoes. One way of dealing with them is to admit the failing, yours or someone else’s and say, “You got me!” or “You’re right!” Admitting that the getcha questioner is correct depends upon whether the facts support the getcha questioner, and whether it’s appropriate to say so. Once you’ve acknowledged the getcha player and his point without hostility, there’s not many places left for him to go.

You can disarm a getcha player by saying, “I give up!” or asking a disarming question. Another way to deal with a getcha player is to redefine the question in terms of a message that you want to get across. If you’re asked a “when-did-you-stop,-beating-your-wife “question, such as, “When is your company going to stop evading government pollution standards and finally put an end to ruining the community?” you can state that your corporation employs and serves people and you can’t do either without a healthy environment. It’s important to have in mind the message you want to convey and not to restate the accusation of the questioner.

With an angry person, you can find something to stroke, such as, “We are glad to live in a community where people care about their environment,” and  “I am glad to see people willing to commit themselves to ideals they believe in.” It may be necessary to do this as many as three or four times. Another technique is to agree and disagree. Agreeing with part of the point being made and then disagreeing questioner is to be “one up” by making and by presenting factual evidence, differences of opinion or your own feelings. For example, if you’re representing a medical association and being asked a question by someone who’s using a question about the high cost of health care to put down MDs, you can agree that there is a problem and that caring for the health of 300 million people is too big a job to be done without doctors, and propose what needs to be done to assure an effective health care delivery system.

Sometimes you will need to confront the getcha question by asking “Are you trying to start a fight with me?” or asking the getcha player to talk with you about what’s really bothering him or her. Another way of confronting is to say, “If we keep this up, the next thing we know we’ll be out in the hall at each other’s throat.” In dealing with getcha questions, it’s important to stay in the “here and now.” Re-living past history is the communications equivalent of walking into a mine field.

Humor can be used effectively in dealing with getcha questioners. Illustrating the use of humor is an incident which Lloyd George, the fiery Welshman and Prime Minister of England, experienced in a parliamentary campaign. A major campaign issue was home rule, and Mr. George, who was a home rule advocate, was exhorting an audience with, “Home rule for India!” “Home rule for Ireland!” when a burly man at the back of the crowd stood up and shouted angrily, “Home rule for hell!” George paused, and then retorted, “That’s right, that’s right, each man for his own country!”

Answer-Seeking Questions

The answer-seeking question is the only one in which the questioner is truly looking for an answer. The answer being sought may be facts, opinions or the sharing of feelings. Answer-seeking questions account for only about one of ten questions asked. Questions beginning with “How” are frequently answer-seeking.

As a rule in answering, make your most important , point first, particularly if you’re dealing with the press. The key to picking up whether a question is carrying a message, seeking to put you down, or asking for an answer is by focusing on the way the question is asked. Voice tone, facial expression, posture and gestures are indicators of hidden messages.

People can often tell a getcha question by the feeling they get in the pit of their stomachs. If you want to experiment with this, record a meeting or speech followed by questions. Play back the tape several times, including one time in which you turn down the volume so that you listen only to tones. Then check out how many questions need an answer.

Comments and questions on the substance of this blogs are welcome. If you have other questions about this website, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

If you think we can help you, we offer webinars and consulting.

 

© 1976, 2008. 2013 Paul Robert. Edwards

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Is Fixing Things and Repair a Sustainable Living for You?

One sector of the economy that is prospering since the downturn began in 2007 has been repairing items we used to throw away and buy anew. Now increasing numbers of people fix things themselves, turn to a repair service, or check out thrift stores. For example, in our community the man who repairs leather and vinyl furniture has never been so busy in his more than twenty years in business. Car repair shops are keeping busy and independently owned shops are doing well.

Items once destined for junk yards and landfills are being acquiring new lives. For example, shopping bags are being turned into handbags, old cast iron radiators are being converted into electric heat systems, and new products are coming out that make thing easier to repair, such as Sugru, a silicone material that is used to patch punctures, smooth rough spots and sharp corners, fixing broken ceramics, and dozens of other fixes.

If you are handy or a quick learner when it comes to working with your hands, you may be able to create a livelihood repairing anything from toys to  bikes, lawn-mowers, lamps, jewelry, watches, clock repair, small appliances, musical instruments, sports gear, furniture to anything you hear or learn people or businesses wish they could repair. If you lack a skill at something that might be useful, look for and secure the necessary training.

For an initial free consultation to explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us. Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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Turning Pickiness into Your Income as a Way to Find a Sustainable Living

If you’re a picky person and like caring for others, the eternal problem of people, particularly children, having lice in their hair may provide a livelihood for you. Lice are not particular about whether the hosts they latch onto are rich or poor, so your clients can come from all economic strata.

You need to be prepared to respond to calls for your service quickly, as once parents discover their child has lice, they want them out immediately. So plan to provide this service in your clients’ homes.

Nitpickers need a supply of nit combs, hair care products, and towels. In addition to the fees you charge for your service, you can sell these. Before you start, however, check to see if your community has an existing lice removal service.

You can find examples of lice removal services on the web on sites like louseynitpickers.com, Lice Squad Canada, and The Texas Lice Squad

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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The Reemerging World of Bicycling

As the price of gasoline continues to rise, more and more people are turning to alternatives to driving. For example, ridership on public transportation is up. A lot of people prefer to bicycle – in part, because it affords a means of exercising.  This gives rise to businesses that serve bicycle riders. For example, here are some:

Making custom made bicycles, such as high-end custom super-light carbon fiber cycles for enthusiasts costing over $2000, to ones for overweight people, to practical cargo bikes suitable for delivering freight, such as being done by Transition Industries in Tucson, to tricycles for uses like collecting and distributing books, such as Bicicloteca, a mobile library.

Cargo bikes for delivering freight
Custom Bicycles for cargo delivery fromTransition Industries

    Providing services of all kinds, such as:

  • collecting compost – for example Ecoscraps in Salt Lake City and Tempe, Arizona.
  • delivering cargo (even furniture)
  • taxi services for rescuing stranded cyclists, such as being done by London’s ClimateCars.  www.climatecars.com
  • repairing bikes from a van or truck going to where the bicycle is. This is being done in Europe by companies like Fix Fiets and Bikemobiel
  • delivering soup
  • organizing bike tours
  • renting bicycles
  • organizing bike sharing systems such as in Dublin and ways for bicycles owners to rent out their bikes. Spinlister is an example of this.

Adapting bikes for new bicycle technology, such as alternatives for bicycle chains, such as belt-driven systems made of polyurethane

Converting bikes into e-bikes. A kit is made by Shimano.

Producing add-on items like bike trailers, such as made by Ridekick,  that provide extra storage and battery power for e-bikes.

Developing, selling and installing technology for bicyclists, such bike-mounted sensors, apps, and mechanisms for using pedal power to produce energy to power mobile devices

Restoring old bikes, outfitting them with custom components and painted to the taste of the buyer.

Training people in classes or personal consultations to

- build bicycles, such as the United Bicycle Institute in Oregon and the Bicycle Academy in Africa.

-  ride with confidence such as being done by Pedal Portland is doing.

We invite you to take this

">poll.

For an initial free consultation about finding a sustainable livelihood, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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Can you turn the high price of driving into a business?

Have increasing gasoline prices changed the amount of driving you do? If you own or are employed by a business that depends on customers coming to you, have you noticed a slump in the number of customers?

A way of dealing with this is to use services that come to you or turn your business into one which takes your goods or services to your customers. For example, instead of taking your dog to the groomer, the groomer comes to your home, or if you’re a massage therapist, you go to your client’s home or office. Other services that can be taken to customers include auto glass repair or replacement, auto body repair, bicycle repair, dent removal, hair salon services, knife sharpening, medical services like mobile mammography, notary services, and screen repair. Almost anything can be turned into a mobile service, for example, traveling wedding chapels and churches. There’s a service that provides portable staging, seating, sound and lighting equipment, and all types of support and transportation equipment for mobile churches. Food trucks are mobile kitchens are growing in popularity. You can learn more about them in a recent article Costco Connection.

The trend toward mobile services is being enhanced by the availability of technology like Square and Intuit’s GoPayment that enables accepting Credit Cards on a smart phone or  iPad, or Android.

Providing mobile service can be a new delivery method for your present profession or something completely new resulting from an expertise developed in your pursuit of an avocation. Going mobile will appeal to you if starting late is your preference.  Mobile providers can, for the most part, make their own hours.  If you like to drive, this is certainly for you.

Here is a link to see why gasoline prices are so high.

We invite you to take the accompanying poll “Has the rising price of gasoline changed any of the following behaviors?”

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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Architectural Salvage – Making Silk from a Sow’s Ear

One of the casualties of the collapse of the housing market has been the destruction of thousands of homes. With two million homes vacant at the present time, many more can be expected to be torn down beyond the 200,000 that are torn down in a typical year. These produce architectural salvage. Almost half of the 127 tons of construction debris when a two-thousand-square foot house is demolished can be salvaged and reused, and there’s a ready market for what’s obtained through salvage operations.

The advantages for people who buy architectural salvage are cost savings and being able to buy items and materials with histories.

Architectural salvage businesses can be specialized in a number of ways. For example, you can salvage particular materials, such as bricks, wood, or glass. You can specialize in specific building portions of a building, such as cabinets, doors, windows, molding, etc.

Does a livelihood with a growing need, requires no special licensing, has low start-up costs, low overhead, and flexible hours appeal to you?

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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Community Management as a Sustainable Living

While community management of homeowner associations has been around for some time and even has its own trade associations, there are growing demands for management for other aspects of community life.  Three of the most promising in offering in career opportunities lie in housing that is association-governed, new community efforts arising from the localization movement, and  new types of housing association for seniors

Beacon Hill Village in Boston (www.beaconhillvillage.org) is a prototype community that allows residents to age in place.  The organization “contracts for household services (repair, cleaning, errands), transportation (to friends, airports, doctors), concierge services, meals and grocery shopping, and home health care.”

Community managers combine an interest in people, people skills, patience, a positive outlook on life, and the ability to manage employees and outside contractors.    Does a growing profession with a present and growing need, offers job as well as self-employment opportunities and requires no licensing, although low-cost credentialing is available, interest you?

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

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Patient Champion – A Promising Career

Do you know someone of who has been victimized in our health care system – family, friend, neighbor coworker or their relative? Whether they go undiagnosed, are overwhelmed by a hospitalization, are overcome by deciding upon expensive and difficult treatment they don’t understand and may not able to pay for, it’s difficult for people of all ages and circumstances to deal with today’s health care institutions, insurance, and practices.

Tens of thousands of people need champions to advocate the needs of patients , accompany them to doctors’  appointments, and when they are hospitalized,  explain their options, particularly those who are ill or enfeebled and don’t have relatives to do battle for them and  therefore are least able to deal with the system alone.

Patient champions combine a desire to help with know-how and the ability to  communicate with medical personnel with respectful firmness. Does an emerging profession with a present and growing need, requires no licensing, has low start-up costs, low overhead, and flexible hours appeal to you? For more information, see a full description at patientchampion.com.

For an initial free consultation, explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us .

If you’re also looking for a domain to start a patient champion practice, we have several available , including PatientChampion.com.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

 

 

 

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Are You Looking for How to Make a Living from Home?

We have developed a model based on the 16 basic needs of a resilient local community, grouping them into 3 areas:

1. Surviving – livelihoods related to basic individual survival:

  • Food & Water
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Energy

2. Hiving – livelihoods related to basic local community survival:

  • Transport
  • Security
  • Health
  • Sanitation
  • Maintenance
  • Community

3. Thriving – livelihoods related to having a strong, enriching local community:

  • Education
  • Trade & Technology
  • Communication
  • Entertainment
  • Spiritual Life

If you’d like a free consultation to see if your skillsets, interests, or passions relate to the hundreds of livelihoods we have identified, drop us an email, and we’ll set something up.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

 

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Health Care for All

Do you remember the Harry and Louise ads used by the health insurance industry to help defeat the Clinton health care initiative in the 1990’s? Chances are today a couple like Harry and Louise, who were so happy with their employer-provided health insurance plan then,  are worrying now  about whether they can afford the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, or they may not have any health insurance at all. In the past few years, the number of employers offering any health coverage has slipped from 7 in 10 to 6 in 10.

In fact, when medical bills now prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies. This is a dramatic shift from when in the late 1960’s I did a study for the Bankruptcy Court of Western Missouri to determine why people were taking bankruptcy.  Only one in fifty – just 2% – cited medical bills as the reason.

Who doesn’t know someone who has delayed or gone without treatment because they can’t afford it and don’t have health insurance to cover what they need? How ironic considering Americans spend more per capita on health care than any other advanced country.

While there is no single reason for our health care predicament, one factor that contributes mightily to what prompts  so many personal health calamities are are big insurance companies motivated primarily by profit, are systems for denying care at any chance. Consider how they routinely deny coverage to people who consider themselves to be in good or excellent health. Here, for example, are some of the grounds insurance companies are using to prevent people from qualifying for health insurance:

allergies, breast implants, ear infections, herpes, high blood pressure, impotence, infertility, mild depression, migraines,miscarriage, pregnancy “expectant fatherhood”, planned adoption, psoriasis, recurrent tonsillitis, ringworm, swelling from a spider bite, three months of psychological counseling after a marriage breakup, and varicose veins.

The shame is that every American could have health insurance for about what is being spent on health care today if we did just one thing – wring out the administrative cost and profit out of health insurance that accounts for one dollar in four of what we pay for health insurance. Before 1990, insurance companies like Blue Cross charged only about 5% for their services.  Even today non-profit systems like Kaiser Permanente and Medicare can offer care for less than 5% for such costs, not 25%; Canadian Health Insurance runs below 3.2%.

In other words, we know about one dollar in every five  could be saved from what’s now going into processing paper, corporate marketing, executive bonuses, and shareholder profits.

How could this happen? Many people advocate Medicare for All. How might this be funded? Congressman Dennis Kucinich calculates a 7.7% payroll tax will enable universal coverage. The State of California calculates that a 4% payroll and a 2% income tax would provide health coverage for all Californians.

But there are other alternatives, too, such as:

Returning to an all cash system and allowing new community-based health insurance plans and pricing to emerge.  Right now the cash price for health care in the U.S. is a fraction of those billed insurance companies, exceeding the co-pays. They could enable U.S. health care costs more in line with those in countries that are now attracting medical tourism when people who needing hip replacements, for example, spend $10,000 on  travel in order to get a new hip for $5,400 instead of the $45,000 it would cost in the U.S.

One example of the kind of insurance companies that could emerge is the Freelancers Insurance Company in New York State. The for-profit company is wholly owned by the nonprofit Freelancers Union. It insures 25,000 independent workers and family members charging premiums more than a third below what they would otherwise pay for health insurance. Another example is Grand Junction, Colorado. Such a plan would be possible in an Elm Street Economy.

Regardless of the alternative we settle upon, no one should profit from insuring the illness of others. We need to wring the administrative costs out of the system, provide professionals with a decent income, and quality health care for all without raising the overall cost of health spending.

Let’s use our voices and voting power to make this happen. It can start by creating  local Elm Street Economies.

Comments on the substance of the blogs are welcome. If you have other questions, please contact me directly for a consulting appointment.

 

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