Have you ever been in a tense situation?

Lois Carson

Lois Carson


You know you are getting old when your kids start to seem “wiser” than you are! This came to mind one day several years ago when I had some car trouble and my son and I were “stuck” at the repair shop waiting for the car to be fixed. I was obviously upset. He looked at me and said, “What’s good about this?” We actually came up with a pretty good list. At the top was that we got to spend some quality time talking and catching up. Since then, I’ve collected some other “Wise and Powerful Questions” that are worth sharing:


  1. What’s good about this?
  2. What can I learn from this?
  3. What’s possible?       What are the possibilities?
  4. What are the facts? Vs. What’s the story? (assumptions, interpretations)
  5. What am I responsible for?

When you find yourself or your team in a “situation” where there is an upset or even just some concerns, take a deep breath and ask one or more of these 5 questions. This will help gain perspective and insight. Most people feel a sense of lightness, optimism and focus as they read these questions, especially #1-3. Looking at possibilities really encourages creativity and teamwork, as well.

Separating facts and stories is a great self coaching exercise. People are very “creative” about using their interpretations/assumptions to make a “story” about what’s going on AND believing that this is the “truth”. Asking what the facts are and keeping these separate from the story is a very powerful insight.

Asking what you are responsible for helps you get clarity on your role in a situation so you are not blaming others, being a victim. It is also a tool for setting boundaries. People often feel like they have to do everything OR solve everything, when in reality it may not be their responsibility.

Make a copy of these questions and stick them in your wallet or other handy place. The next time a tense situation comes up, ask yourself one of these “Wise and Powerful” questions. I guarantee you’ll feel better!

Author:  Lois Carson, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org