What Result Are You After?
When I worked in HR (in a previous lifetime), I had an employee come to me extremely agitated. He had reached his boiling point – for three years, he had secretly felt zero respect for his manager. And he simply could not tolerate another day of taking direction from her. He decided that he needed to tell her how he felt. As he sat in my office telling me what he was going to say to her the next morning in this big “Come to Jesus” meeting, I let him vent a while before I interrupted him.
“So… What result are you after?” I asked. “When you tell her that you haven’t respected her for the last three years, that you cringe every time you get a directive from her, that you disagree with her strategic plan for the department, what exactly are you expecting?”
My question stopped him. I could see him really thinking… and I knew he was just having an emotional reaction. In my head, I was thinking, “If the result he wants is to end his career tomorrow, he’s got a solid plan”.
Since then, I’ve asked this question a lot. And it applies to a lot of situations. When a friend can’t decide between two options, I ask what result they are after. That usually helps the person get clarity on which option is best. When a situation is messy and needs some kind of resolution, asking what result you are after helps identify exactly how to proceed.
That employee REALLY wanted to tell his boss off. But the result he truly wanted? Well, it wasn’t to get fired or “managed out”. What he really wanted was to report to someone else. Anyone else. When I explained that this little fantasy wasn’t possible at that time, he opted to resign the next day. When I got him to be honest about what he REALLY wanted, what result he was REALLY after, his plan changed.
Every situation is about making a choice. What guides that choice? The result you want.