Golden Questions™

Two simple questions that can change the course of your next conversation.


How were you taught to treat others? Think back, how did your parents teach you to treat one another? How about your teachers? How did your coaches teach you to treat your teammates? And, how did your family members teach you to treat one another?

As I've asked this question thousands of times, I get two simple answers. The first, is respect. The second, is the Golden Rule. That Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is one of the primary rules that we are wired to think about how to treat others. As I ask those that give the answer of respect, I get back the same answer. Respect is defined from your own prospective.

The Golden Rule and respect, are a way that we see the world not as it is, but as we are. This is our emotional filter, this is how we are wired. What I want to do today is introduce you to something different. We are different. There is communication in behavioral diversity with each and every one of us. The work that we do here at Institute Success, we see that over 80% of the folks you interact with on a daily basis have a different natural style than you do. That means only 20% have a style that is similar to you. Not exactly the same, but similar.

As you see your daily interactions, there's potential conflict with four out of five people. Where, you are processing through your emotional filter, how you think someone might need to treat you the way you want to be treated.

We introduce the Golden Questions™, a different way of framing this problem. The Golden Questions™ are intended to replace the Golden Rule. That first question is, who am I communicating with? Instead of using the default and treating that individual you are communicating with the way we want to be treated. We ask ourself, "Who are they? Are they like me, or are they different than me?" Remember, four out of five times they're often someone different than your natural style.

Then, comes in that second question. How can I adapt to be successful with that person? If I know who they are and they're different than me, then I need to adapt. My communication style, my behavior, to match their preferred style because they're wired the same way we were wired, which is with that Golden Rule. These are two really powerful questions.

I'd like to share a story with how this played out for me just on a daily basis, so very simple example that's got to start out with understanding who I am. This is my DISC style. I'm a moderate D, a low I, a high S, and a high C. I'm what you would call an SC style, I'm more introverted, kind of a blend of people in task. But, I'm more in my head, more introverted, more quiet, more reflective.

I'm also very habitual. One thing I do every day, is I go to Starbucks. I hate waiting in line, so as a good introvert, I'm going to pull out the app. Don't have to interact with anyone, simply place my order, my breakfast sandwich, my coffee. Voila, in three to seven minutes it'll be ready.

Well, about two years ago my typical daily routine changed. My son had changed schools, and so I started going to a different Starbucks. But as usual, I dropped him off at the bus, pulled out my phone, placed my order. Three to seven minutes, drove to that new Starbucks, walked in the door, and there I was greeted with this lovely customer service person sitting at the register, and my ticket still sitting on the printer. My coffee wasn't ready, my sandwich wasn't ready. It was eight minutes in, and that three to seven minutes had long gone by.

There I was, not too dissimilar from this picture. I think I had, my arms were probably crossed. Not really happy, standing at the end of the bar where you pick up the mobile orders. Staring down the lady at the cash register, and staring down that ticket. Not a happy person.

Well, this went on for a couple of days. It didn't really change much. But then I was like, "What about the Golden Rule? No, that's not working. So, let me try these Golden Questions™." I asked myself, "Who am I communicating with?" Now, I didn't have a DISC assessment on this individual, but I could pick up behavioral clues, as I was trained using the DISC assessment. That, based on the fact that she was highly talkative, she was talking with the other customers, distracted, not grabbing my ticket and dealing with it, she was less task oriented and more people oriented. I had a sense of what style she was. As we know now, she was a high I, high S style. I decided to adapt my communication with this person. Read a name tag, her name was Kathleen. I started to employ techniques to be successful with Kathleen, right?

She's a high I, high S style. I wanted to make sure I made eye contact. I needed to smile, no, there's no crossing my arms. I needed to say hello when I walked in. Actually, even better, I needed to say, "Hi Kathleen." I needed to start up a conversation and find a common connection. This is what Kathleen valued. I started doing that, and after a couple of days things changed. Because, no longer did Kathleen see me as just another ticket, I was now a person in her mind 'cause she's people oriented. I had a name, it was Andy. When that ticket rolled off the next time she's like, "Oh, there's Andy. Andy's coming back in."

When I would walk in and my sandwich wouldn't be ready, she would say, "Hey Andy, your sandwich is in the oven." Things changed dramatically over those next couple days, next couple weeks. To the point where I could still walk into that Starbucks today, and I'd get a good morning from Kathleen, and I'd say good morning, and we acknowledge one another. It's a win/win for both of us. I employed that set of Golden Questions™ to have success in that interaction with Kathleen.

I didn't have the luxury of her DISC assessment, so it's if you're working with folks that you're not able to pick up on their styles yet, it's a great tool to understand their communication preferences. One of the sections in the DISC assessment is ways to effectively communicate with one another, and things to avoid when communicating with an individual. So, some really powerful tools that you can leverage to your benefit to employ theGolden Questions™ even more effectively. So, wonderful success with my interactions with Kathleen.

What I'd like to leave you with today is .... How could the Golden Questions™ impact your next conversation?

Here's to success in your next conversation.