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  • Writer's pictureAngela Scalpello

What are the conversations you need to have? What are the questions you need to ask?


We live our life in conversations. We ask, we tell. We position, we persuade. But how often do we ask the questions for which we don't have answers? "Why is this important to you?" "If we could find common ground, what could that look like?" "What do we want to hold ourselves accountable for?" "How do you feel about what I just said?" "What does success look like to you?"


We put together critical project teams of people who are new to the organization as well as those who have been there a long time. We give them so-called big, hairy, audacious goals. But do they really know each other? What matters to each of them? What are their values, their risk tolerance, what gets them excited? What are the questions they could ask each other for which they don't have answers? "Who influenced you the most in your life, how and why?" "What have you done in your life that you're proudest of?" "What is your non-X-rated guilty pleasure?" (mine is true crime shows). "What are your personal aspirations?"


I've worked with project teams, senior leadership teams, product teams, innovation teams and others and the questions I've asked, among others, that created the necessary shift in relationships, trust, and success were:

  • What is it we're afraid to talk about?

  • Assuming we could be successful what are the obstacles that could get in our way?

  • What are the conversations happening in the halls or on private calls that need to happen here?

  • What if we felt responsible for each other's success, what would we be doing?

  • If we were being (fill in the word - honest, bold, transparent, inclusive, empathetic), how would that look? What would we be doing differently?

  • What's the question I haven't thought to ask all of you that we need to discuss?

We talk. A lot. Many of us are trained to believe we need to have answers, maybe even all the answers. I would argue that we need to embrace the power of questions, especially those for which we don't have answers.


Are you having conversations that create trust, inclusion and psychological safety that in turn create trusting relationships and healthy cultures?


Ask yourself that question.



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