Inquiry – The Path to Connection

Hi, Olivia here.
 
I had an interaction with an alternative healing practitioner the other day that I wanted to share with our readers. After my appointment it took me a little while to realize what had even transpired. The transformation of my experience of her and of the situation so beautifully illustrates how inquiry breaks down barriers between people and creates a path to connection.
 
When I walked into the room it was straight down to business. This was my first appointment trying a new healing modality and there was no introduction. No explanation of the process, of her background, or what I should expect. Nothing. She barely looked me in the eye before she started working. There was no attempt to welcome me or try to make me feel comfortable. No reassurance whatsoever. I found myself judging, “This person could use an upgrade in their bedside manner”.
 
At first, I was a little upset. I wondered if most people simply sit down and shut up and wait to be fixed, not caring about how or why this process worked. Not me. Being the type of person who loves learning and understanding how things worked I naturally started asking questions. I asked about the machine she was using, how it worked, the research and development behind it, where it originated, and where it was popular. I asked how she came to this line of work and what her motivations were for pursuing this career. I asked about her successes as a healer. I asked about the artwork on her wall. I asked about her property that she lived on. I asked about what mattress she slept on. I asked what religion she was. I just kept asking and asking. Purely out of curiosity and a desire to get the most out of my session and to connect with her.
 
We had gotten off to a rocky start but then something miraculous happened. Over the course of the two hours that we were together, in the midst of my incessant questioning, she softened. She began to smile more easily and even laugh. There was a moment where she looked at me, perhaps truly seeing me for the first time since I walked into her office, and took me in. She then began to ask me about my life and my background.
 
By the end of the session she was giving me tips on how to start my own business doing what she does. She even hinted that she had been looking for an apprentice. The amazing thing is that it was only upon reflection of the drastic change that I realized it was all thanks to inquiry. It’s become such a part of my life in such a short time that I don’t always attribute the miracles to it right away.
 
I cannot tell you how much inquiry has totally changed my closest relationships. My family and friends seem more relaxed around me. If I had to guess, I’d say they feel more safe. More loved, more heard, and less judged. However, this was the first time that I experienced how inquiry could change my interactions with strangers.
 
I used to play a game that Dr. Wayne Dyer said he played all the time. He would try to make everyone that he met smile and feel better than before they interacted. Honestly, it was a noble idea but I wasn’t always very successful. Something tells me that with inquiry as my new secret weapon this game of brightening the day of those I come into contact with will be MUCH easier.

Question and Answer: Change within a Relationship

You can’t change another person. That is one of the unfortunate, and yet universal truths. Sometimes, you can inspire another person to change. Being motivated is always impacted by the perception, “what’s in it for me?”.

On the other hand, there is one person who you are 100% empowered to change, and that’s you. In any relationship, whether it’s personal or in business, I like to tell people to take 100% responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for the business or 100% responsibility for the relationship. I am always looking to create a vision for a relationship that is inspired by the other person’s motivations or by adapting myself to what is or what’s true about the other person.

The most potent example of the first is a “want for us”. This is what I work with during a corporate or a relationship renewal. Whenever I’m in a primary romantic relationship with someone, I always like to whether it’s just for a vacation or long-term, come to a shared understanding of the “want for us”. Meaning, what is the want for us, what are we working towards together? When I can get clear about the “want for us” the relationship feels easy. When I can’t get clear about it, it feels hard or difficult. It’s even harder if we’re trying to achieve, experience, or do different things. In a case where we can’t come to a “want for us” or the other person is uninterested or unwilling to participate in a “want for us” in the way I want them to, the only other option is to accept them just the way they are.

That can sometimes be miraculous. Sometimes when I accept someone just the way they are, and get behind who they are, I find things open up and possibilities appear that never would have otherwise.

A relationship is always positive if we are oriented toward the want for us. Practice with your partner. When you wake up, before you go about your morning, discuss the “want for us” for the morning.

It could be, “Well I have a lot going on so let’s do our own thing and go our own way, but I want 5 minutes to have coffee with you and kiss you good-bye.”

The other person can say, “Actually there are some important things we need to get done. I would like help figuring out dinner so that I can go shopping for it and I’m also missing your attention. I’d like you to put your attention on me. I’d like for you to rub my neck and take some time for me.”

Then the other person may say, “I can get into that”, or not, but the goal is to get aligned.

So the want for us could be an overarching desire for your life together or it can be broken down into the want for the morning, the evening, or any of your time together.

Another example could be making decisions like buying a new refrigerator. Imagine this dialogue:

One person might say, “I want to buy the coolest refrigerator ever!”

And the other person might say, “I want to save some money. I’d like to spend under $300. I guess we better get aligned with what we are shooting for. Can we find a cool fridge for under $300?”

“Oh, I guess I hadn’t really thought about that. Are we running out of money?”

“Yeah, we don’t really have a lot of money this month, but we do need a fridge.”

“Oh, well maybe we could find a used one.”

Anytime we can get in alignment the smoother things will be. For example, you can decide on a “want for us” on vacation. If one person wants to relax and the other wants to go on adventures you should probably get clear on the “want for us”. Here is dialogue that could happen around that:

It can get really powerful when you go deeper, like, “I just really want this to amplify our connection to each other.”

The other person might say, “Oh I guess I hadn’t really even thought about that. I just thought we were going on vacation.”

“On the flight there let’s imagine different things we could do or different ways we could approach this trip so that it would amplify our connection to each other.”

Then, throughout the trip, when you go to do things, check in. “Should we go parasailing? Would that amplify our connection?”

“I guess not. It seems like the jungle hike would really achieve that.”

Anytime you can catalyze something around a “want for us” it’s really powerful. Anytime you step into any of these conversations it helps you clarify the relationship more and more.

The alternative to coming to a “want for us” is the choice to accept the other person the way they are.

Consensual Intimacy

In the same way sexual consent is important, in Inquiry Method there is a range of intimacy and the depth of that intimacy should also be consensual.

If the intimacy reached through Inquiry Method is nonconsensual, it can sometimes feel like a violation. That is why we like to set up containers or an environment or sanctuary in which to practice Inquiry Method.

Obviously, inquiry on a casual basis does not necessarily need to be overtly consensual but you want to watch very carefully as you are practicing asking deeper and more intimate questions to notice if your inquiry partner is responding as if they are being violated. Some people are harder tells and it is better to practice caution.

Consent in Inquiry Method is very simple. It can be as simple as, with a casual acquaintance, asking if they mind if you ask them a question: “Would you mind if I asked you a question?” In more formal Inquiry Method, we want to set up safe containers. We may ask someone if they would like to practice Inquiry Method together. Within that container, there are different levels of formally declaring sanctuary- from simply saying it’s my intention to be safe for you, to even repeating the sanctuary context from the Mountain Experience overtly. Even within a formal Inquiry Method container that is fully consensual, we may still find ourselves asking questions like – “Do you mind if I ask about your childhood?” or “Would you like me to ask questions to go deeper?”

You may find consensual based Inquiry Method to be particularly useful and poignant with children and partners. Watch your children when you ask them penetrating questions, and notice when you have pushed into a non-consensual boundary. Try it out this week, watch for any violation, ask for permission and see if you don’t actually get deeper connection and deeper opening when you practice safety and permission in this way.

Inquiry Magic

Today I want to focus on an aspect of Inquiry Method and the distinction of Inquiry Method as a practice between two people.

You can use this practice in any situation, from informal to formal.

The formal form includes setting up sanctuary, having one person hold the space of inquiry, and having one person hold the space of self-reflection.

In both positions, we start from a position of not knowing. It is the same willingness to not know that occurs in both positions. The person in the inquiry position doesn’t know about the person who is being inquired upon. And the person in the self-reflection position starts from not knowing about themselves. Everyone is equally curious. The principle of inquiry method is to understand together, to co-learn, to co-reveal.

When I’m in the place of inquiry, I’m revealing my ignorance about what it is like to be the other person. When I’m in the position of self-reflection, I’m willing to reveal my ignorance about myself.

The better we can do this together with an open nonjudgmental sense of wonder and curiosity, the more will be revealed. The more we develop our capacity toward this practice, the more it starts to seem like magic.

As an added bonus, this practice will develop an intuitive, empathetic quality that will give you information about yourself and others, even outside the practice. It’s a powerful muscle that will develop as you exercise it.

Best Way to Ask for a Raise

In Inquiry Management, as an employee, we gain and can develop the skill of managing up.

Managing up means that through the process of inquiry up and passing problems up, we are able to develop our relationship and secure success within an organization. An example of this, I call, “the best way to ask for a raise.”

The best way to ask for a raise is: At your next review, one-on-one, or even a meeting that you arrange, ask the person who you report up to, what you would have to do to be worth X% more or X dollars more to the company 6 months from now or a year from now. And then listen carefully. Different responses are possible.

One response would be that there is nothing you can do to be worth more in 6 months or a year. That is great info to know. You’ll know there is no upward mobility and you can start accepting it and be happy with it, or you can start looking for a new job.

A second answer may be that you can get a raise if you are able to develop x skill, to learn to do spreadsheets, increase sales by x%, be able to demonstrate a certain capacity or attitude, or something else. With any of these responses, you would want to ask more and make it measurable so that it is something you could both agree on. The beauty of this system is that once they agree, you’ve already made the agreement for the raise. So you don’t have to worry about asking for it, you can just focus on doing what you need to do to get it.

If you are in a company that employs Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership then you can check in on your progress in your weekly meetings or one on ones. If you aren’t, maybe you can just check in on a monthly or weekly basis about how you are doing towards your goal and how they feel about your work. That way you keep focusing on and honoring the agreement you’ve made.

From a management point of view, I recommend doing this with the people who report to you. Make these kinds of agreements. That way, with raises, you are actually able to continue to develop and guide the development of your workforce. Make sure that you are actually incentivizing activities and goals that support and amplify the goals and success of the organization.


Want more like this? Check out our ECourse and EBook on Inquiry Management.

Addressing Conflict

We asked people on our facebook page what topic they would like to us to do a blog or talk on. We’re going to be answering another one today and look forward to doing more as we go forward.

We really appreciate being in conversation versus having the blogs be a unilateral conversation, so if you have a question you’d like to ask Kyle or a topic you’d like to see him do a blog or talk on, please send us an email or a message on Facebook.

The question we are going to answer today is: “How do you create a happy workplace when employees are in conflict”?

You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog.

The most challenging and, simultaneously, the most important thing is to actually address the conflict. In every conflict, there is a huge opportunity. And, this is where Inquiry Method comes in.

We often want to get into a mode of just telling people what to do or having people work it out, but the conflict is really an opportunity to bring something to the surface. This is true with every relationship, not just relationships at work.

The very best thing is to sit down with whoever is in conflict and start doing inquiry (I do this during a couple’s renewal or when I work with a team in an office).

Start with having each one of them talk to you. Ask them about the situation and have the desire to really understand it. Stay out of being a boss or pushing people around, and instead, just focus on really understanding. Try to really understand one person, while the other person listens. Then switch over to the other person and really try to understand them, while the other person listens.

If we keep in the process of understanding, we find we all want the same thing. Ultimately, we are all yearning for the same thing. Everybody wants to have a great business. Everybody wants to have fun at work. Everybody wants to get along. So, if we can talk to people and really understand them, especially in front of the person they are having the conflict with, it’s amazing how quickly people will come together.

In addition, any conflict is probably a reflection of something that is not functioning correctly in your business. So, it’s also really good information to get as the leader because the conflict may be about things you need to fix or repair in the business.

Let’s use these conflicts as opportunities.

I love this question. Thanks for asking it.

Love,
Kyle


If you are interested in finding out more about bringing Kyle in to help resolve conflict, email us at info@inquirymethod.com

Emptying Out

Emptying out is an important life practice, as we go through our day/lives we accumulate thoughts, impressions, feelings, ideas, hurts, judgments, etc. There is a way that these things start to block our system, like a form of mental or emotional constipation.

It is important to clear our system out regularly to a safe listener. Some people know this consciously or unconsciously and practice it regularly with friends. Others don’t practice it and don’t necessarily value it or understand it. Part of this is that we are often conditioned to fix problems and focus on that, rather than listening.

Fixing is not the point, emptying out and being heard is the point.

I often give the talking stick exercise (practice) to my relationship clients to practice this and create a new dynamic in the relationship. It is wonderful to have a partner to whom you can empty out to. Emptying out feels clean, it clears up your thinking and reasoning and opens up your clogged mind to be free to think about creating things, gratitude, love, socializing, playing, and anything else you would like it to be doing rather than being stuck in endless loops of thinking and perseveration.

Read more about the talking stick exercise in this earlier blog

People Are Good

I am traveling today and I like to remember that people are good.  I notice that in general that I tend to resent the person in the seat next to me on the airplane as an imposition and nuisance, usually making some judgments about them in some way or another.  Without connection people are just objects in the field.  However, now I make a practice of just saying “hi.” I rarely engage in long conversations, but I say hi and lightly connect.  Inevitably this little connection humanizes them and I see the human behind the physical object. I can no longer resent them or make judgments about them because they are human beings now.  We can do this all day long, turn people into human beings.  It is amazing what a difference it can make.

Love,

Kyle

Opinion and Truth

There is a big difference between your opinion and the truth.

Opinions are imposed, truth is shared.

Opinions can be argued, truth cannot.

Opinions need defending, truth does not.

Opinions are thoughts, truth is self evident.

Opinions come from you, truth comes through you.

Opinions are arrogant, truth is humble.

Opinions are force, truth is love.

Opinions create separation, truth brings us together.

Opinions can be owned, the truth is for everyone.

Truth can be proved, opinions cannot.

Truth is found through inquiry, opinions are invented at whim.

You don’t get credit for the truth, only your capacity to hear it.

Truth told as an opinion loses its power.

We each have a choice which one to hold most dear, but they can never be equal.

~ Kyle Mercer

Inviting Others to the Mountain Experience

Many of you have been deeply impacted in one way or another by the Mountain Experience. For the majority of you it has been a life-changing event that, as I hear from many of you, you think about every day. Even if you have not attended the mountain experience, I encourage you to learn more about it and share it with your friends. In fact, we as human beings often want to share such a beneficial experience with other people that seem struggling or limited in some way as they could really use the insight that is provided by the Mountain Experience.

Encouraging or inviting someone to come can be a real challenge because we do not always have the tools or the perspective to share the Mountain Experience with another person. The opportunity most often occurs when somebody is suffering or challenged. Our typical habit when somebody else is suffering or challenged is to drop into telling, to advising, to comforting, to all sorts of different modes that do not really offer the support that someone else is needing. The most powerful way to interact with someone is through inquiry because they just want to be understood or heard.

If you find someone that seems to be struggling in some way, then you can apply inquiry with a desire to not fix them but to truly understand what is going on for them. When you do this, you will see them open up; you will see them go deeper into their awareness about what is happening to them. In that openness, if you can simply recognize the shared humanity, the shared underpinnings that we all have, and recognize what they have that you have, you will form a compassionate connection. Once you feel that connection, once you have recognized the shared humanities and struggles around life, then you can say “You know, I have felt that way personally and I still feel that way sometimes, and I did something, the Mountain Experience, that really made a big difference in how I see things and it really made it easier for me.”

Once you have shared that, you can stop, and just see if something lights up in the person with whom you are speaking. And if something does light up in them, they will usually ask you a question like, “Do you think that would help me?” At that point it is really important to only answer the question at the level at which they ask it. So, for example, if someone asks, “Do you think that could help me?”, the very best response is “I don’t know, it helped me, so maybe you should check it out- would you like me to send you a link or have someone call you?” And then it is essentially off your plate, as we here at Inquiry Method will take care of the rest.

The main thing to remember here is you should not try to fix them or say they need the Mountain Experience; it is much better to present it as an opportunity or invitation. You should convey that the mountain experience worked for you when you were dealing with similar issues, and say you hope it will do the same for them. The very best outcome is to get their permission for someone to call them, and then let us know, and we will be happy to follow up and have an initial conversation with them to see if attending the Mountain Experience would be a beneficial endeavor.