Ask Better Questions By Realizing You Are Not In The Know

By: Chad Allen

Lisa Marie - Nice Take.

My version of this conversation started with the seller, project manager, or salesperson’s perspective, rather than the buyer’s. Many of you are Pulse Group’s customers, so don’t take this wrong, but it is essential to ask better questions. While it started from one side, I quickly saw the value in asking better questions as a consumer and buyer.

In my previous company, I had a client that went off the rails over everything. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. This isn’t a “Chad” exaggeration.

Just one of the examples that come to mind is how they would react differently depending on how I responded to their emails. For example:

  • I responded to an email with, “No problem, Thanks.”
  • They would ignore more for several days.
  • I responded to an email with, “No problem, thank you.”
  • They were lovely and responsive.
  • I answered 3 hours later instead of immediately
  • They blew up in fury

Being on the receiving end of that level of volatility made me realize, they never asked me any questions at all, better yet, good ones. They did the following:

The Drama Triangle (

Instead of asking questions and collecting data on any given issue to help the process, they assumed everything. Even worse, they did not contribute to finding a solution and instead persecuted our team. When the truth would come out, they would try to rescue the situation with apologies and expect that the apology would be accepted even if their words/behavior were complexly out of line. It became the boy who cried wolf, as this was a weekly occurrence.

If their apology was not accepted immediately and their rescuing efforts failed to clear the air, they became victims of their situation immediately thereafter. Not liking being a victim of the situation they caused, they then puffed their chest and came full circle back to persecution with actions that implied “I’m the boss”, “I am better than you”, “It does not matter how I act”, and the famous “Do what you are told.”

While trying to navigate this situation, I found that their ability to ask good questions was missing.

As an integrator, I know how critical it is for clients and trade partners to ask better questions. As a developer, I see no platform has perfect software or hardware. Even as I write this on Apple iOS, a trillion-dollar company, I can show you three bugs. The bugs must be identified as a need for an immediate hotfix or as something that is not vital and can be added to an upcoming release.

In the case of the example above situation, it was not about the project having issues as much as it was about basic communication. They were testy and aggravated regardless of how good or bad things were

The Realization

As I ventured through this challenge, I continually asked myself, why don’t they ask good questions? The issue was the general lack of questions. They were so confident they knew all intent (in text and verbally) that there was no need for clarification, education, or a good conversation to get them into the know so they could co-manage the project phase. It became like this for all phases of the project.

I sat back and realized there was no way for me to manage this. I can’t make people want to know where we are, what we are doing, what to expect, and how we can work together if we cannot simply discuss a plan and create a strategy that can adjust as needed.

As a project manager or sales person, you all of a sudden also need to be a mind reader (which none of us are). No project is perfect, yet teamwork, good communication, and forgiveness when things are too serious or when someone has a bad day go a long way when the pressure is on.

It would be fantastic if all parties got that.

This realization has led me to be a much better consumer myself. Whether it is by my pool breaking, my roof leaking, or my gas line getting disconnected…before I react, it is in my best interest to evaluate the situation, learn my options, ask questions, and make an informed choice.

I have found that losing your mind does not happen when you consciously ask good questions and hold off on the emotion until you are in the know. As a buyer, no one can get you into the know but you.

The Takeaway

We all have bad days. When we do good, the team owns those bad days and provides ownership of that behavior. Forgiveness is a good idea since you can have the same bad day. Oh, and it is a fallacy to think that if you are having a bad day, no one else is or should. Your day is often not better or worse than someone else.

My takeaway is to hold back the emotions until you know you know all the parts, then decide the best course of action. Use the growth in your questions to do just that.

PS - To assume is to make an ass out of u and me.