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Questions Episode 17


· 41:42


[00:00:00] Mark Steadman: Have you ever walked out of a mall into a huge parking area and realized you'd forgotten where you'd parked your car? Ever gone mountain biking? What do you want to be when you grow up? What's the right tip? Have you got a plumber to your home lately? These and other questions are available in Beyond Belief, hosted by TV's Jonathan F. Franks. Dunno if you've ever seen the, the compilation. It's quite the thing. It's like a, a really slightly toxic first date of, of a dude who's been told that he's supposed to show interest by asking questions and he's just doesn't stop to listen for the answers.

[00:00:33] Anya: I mean, but it's, it's so like, it's a first date. So he will actually, that the girl will give him a second date clearly. 'cause he is Riker.

[00:00:40] Mark Steadman: Yeah, you have the bridge number one. Welcome to the A to Z of Happiness with Anya Pearse and me Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of Happiness one letter at a time. This week it's Q for questions.

[00:00:56] Anya: There's something about taking a moment to pause and whether, whether it's with yourself or with another, and to break habits to. Notice possibilities to have curiosity. I think we all thrive when we experience someone being interested in us.

[00:01:21] And you know, Socrates famously said, you know, the unexamined life is not worth living.

[00:01:26] Mark Steadman: Um, so, so today a very simple thing happened that nearly made me well up, um, in a really. Wholesome, kind of beautiful, warm way in that. Um, so I'd, I'd gone on, I'd gone on a big long walk, and then I saw a sign for a new shop, and it would, uh, it was, uh, the shutters were down and someone, uh, had painted in what is obviously gonna be the brand colors, uh, on this shop.

[00:01:55] Um, thE words, it's going to be fine. Cheese and wine. we've so in yellow got, it's going to be fine. And then cheese and wine. And I just, I took a photo of it and I thought, that's nice. You know, it's, it's what we can learn from that is it's going to be fine. And then I started thinking about that mode that we can get ourselves into when we are curious and when we're open and when we're looking around and when we're observing and wanting to take stuff in and how nourishing and, and how.

[00:02:22] Joyous that can feel when you are in that mode of expansion and looking around rather than sort of being inward. And it made me think about the song, uh, a song that I'd written a couple of months ago that I hadn't realized how much of it I'd written to myself. Like the words in that song, I had not realized I was writing it for me in three or four months later and it gave me goosebumps.

[00:02:53] Anya: Oh

[00:02:54] God.

[00:02:54] Mark Steadman: but it's simple about looking around and listening and seeing what's around you taking notes and, and uh, and things might

[00:03:04] Anya: remember it. I

[00:03:06] Mark Steadman: oh my word.

[00:03:08] Anya: there was a message there from, from your past self to your future self. Yeah. Yeah. And it's 'cause it's, you know, this idea of being able to, to notice and inquire, to have that kind of little gentle rub or friction in our brain that makes us want to know something more. And I think that's the thing. I think, you know, you're talking about, you know, being expansive rather than contracted.

[00:03:37] You know, if you think about the contracted position in our lives, it is very protective. It's defensive. And I think I've mentioned in the last episode about Will store and the science of storytelling. You know, how we are up until a certain age. We are really curious. You know, I was, I was watching a video by big big Think on, on questions and saying, you know, how the average 4-year-old asks hundreds of questions in a day?

[00:04:03] You know, it's, it's part of the world building mechanism that we have. How, you know, through schooling actually where people end up, you know, asking fewer and fewer questions because it's less about being inquiring and more about being reten of retaining information, of passing tests. And again, you know, when you think about the the will store idea of how we are, uh, mappers of the world through all these questions, through this, process of.

[00:04:36] Internalizing the world around us and creating an internal replica. At a certain point we stop asking questions. You know, and I'll touch on this in one of the coming upcoming prompts, because we don't want answers that might disrupt what we believe

[00:04:53] Mark Steadman: Yeah.

[00:04:54] Yeah. Stop looking inside soul my Move on.

[00:05:03] Anya: It's, it's, it's, funnily enough, one of the prompts, which I originally had this morning, but I just, I thought it's just too, too hard for people is what is the question you are avoiding asking yourself? You know, because there, and there is, there

[00:05:16] Mark Steadman: that, I think so. I'm sorry. I, I, I think that is so APTT for the communities that we are in. Because, you know, both of us live in one or more communities that are about coming up with ideas, trying to hide money from them. And that is a, that is a whole thing of what question are you avoiding? Because actually you don't want to get the answer, well, no one really needs this because you think it's a great idea and you wanna make thing, but actually.

[00:05:47] You are afraid to ask the or, or you are afraid to ask it of enough people or the right people because you are afraid that you then you're not gonna be able to meet the thing. 'cause actually no one needs it.

[00:05:56] Anya: Well, actually I think you know ne the next episode is gonna be R for relationships, and I think not asking questions because you're afraid of the answer is something that happens a lot in relationships. You know, and there can become this tacit silent contract. I think I'm, we've mentioned it before, you know, if you don't ask me about this, I won't ask you about that.

[00:06:19] And, you know, there's this whole thing of, you know, there's only the truths that we can bear. And so there is a certain, so it does take, you know, moving from a position of contraction and protection. To this sense of knowing that you'll be okay regardless and moving into an expansive phase. You know, even as I'm talking now, I can feel my body shift.

[00:06:44] I'm opening my arms, opening my hands as if I can embrace what is coming before me. And you know, being able to, there was a. Track. I, uh, a talk I listened to years ago. I won't be able to judge it up now, unfortunately. It really, really frustrates tried in the past. me because I've I, I know it's surprising for me.

[00:07:05] I can, I can even see the screenshot of what the screen looks like with the MP three on it. Very annoying. But it talks about how, you know, the opposite of fear isn't courage, but curiosity. And I think, you know, being able to cultivate, I think it requires a sense of safety and security to be able to, not always, but to be able to ask oneself, you know, what if why? how, how.

[00:07:35] Mark Steadman: I think is a big one actually, because we often ask ourselves. iF, yeah, if, and, and actually if you, if you take an if question and you turn it to how it, because the problem with if, is it, it already carries the possibility of a negative. know Whereas, is this possible versus how is this possible?

[00:07:55] Because it already supposes that it is. So it's then much more practical in a sense, or pragmatic about, okay, how do we actually do the thing that we're saying? We haven't figured out whether it's possible yet. We're not gonna worry about that. We're gonna assume it is, but we don't know how yet. And yeah.

[00:08:09] Anya: Yeah, and, and, and from what I know of design thinking, you know, it is very much this idea of, you know, our framing things as how, you know, to build that positive momentum. And I. Overcoming the negativity bias, which assumes that everything that's gone on before is how things are going to perpetuate. And this is why, you know, I do love, you know, there's a great quote by Walen Berger and the author of a More Beautiful Question, and he says, you know, one of, he came across what he says is a great definition of questioning as questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don't know. I do like that, this idea of acknowledging that because there is this thing of, you know, some people might be very afraid to ask questions for fear of looking dumb. For fear of, you know, I will often say, you know, okay, I'm gonna, you know, I've got a dumb question upcoming, you know, and I'll say that and another person will go, that's not a dumb question.

[00:09:08] That's a really

[00:09:08] Mark Steadman: Yeah, the actually amount of times people go, that's a really basic question. It's like, no, people, people tend not to because your questions usually are either not basic in a sense or fundamental. I, I would often say, and, and, you know, you're getting into fundamental understanding of a thing often when you ask a, a question.

[00:09:26] And that's, that's really useful.

[00:09:28] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And in the same big think video, which is gonna be in the show notes, you know, I think it is Tim Ferris talks about Malcolm Gladwell's father being a mathematician and having no intellectual ego. And so he will, he will constantly ask someone, say, you know, would say to someone, I don't understand, can you explain it to me?

[00:09:49] And just repeat that and actually, and isn't that, you know, a wonderful thing because so often, and again this happens in work context, it happens in interpersonal personal relationships as well. You know, not wanting the other person to think that we don't understand, you know, almost wanting to, even if we don't, not wanting, or actually what's often worse is we assume that we do and we actually don't.

[00:10:17] Mark Steadman: Yes. probably got this. I've I probably get what's happening here. misinterpreted sure I haven't

[00:10:26] Anya: And particularly in the, in this day and age when so much communication is mediated through things like texts, through voice messages, you know, we all bring this hinterland of, of belief and memory and assumption. You know, we, we look at the world through. Lenses, assuming that we have 2020 vision, and yet, you know, we cannot, you know, we cannot see.

[00:10:53] It's like the, the, the goldfish in the, in the, in the water. You know, they can't see the water they're swimming in. You know, in a lot of ways one of the great things about asking ourselves questions is 'cause it's, it's, it's the twofold thing. Yes. It's asking questions of other people. It's asking questions of ourselves.

[00:11:10] Just being able to. If not see fully the cognitive blinkers or the emotional blinkers that we have, the things that are distorting the way that we see the world. And I don't mean distorting in a bad way. You know, there are things which it's, it's inevitable, you know, once you get to, to any kind of age to to have things which color your viewpoint.

[00:11:33] But being able to know that they are there really. To recognize that, oh, okay. I'm looking at this a certain way. You know, I, I love the Brene Brown, you know, shares one of the most helpful things her therapist said to her as, as, as a question, you know, as, as a, as a device to get around these things. the story I'm telling myself is. Because we don't see it as a story, we don't see it as a narrative. We just say, okay, this person is doing this thing, therefore, dot, dot, dot, dot, and inevitably the dot.dot means something negative about us. Because you know, I think the majority of people in the world, maybe not all, but the majority of the ones who I've crossed parties with, if you get them on in a quiet moment, will admit that they fear that they're not enough, that they're not lovable, they're not gonna make it, they don't deserve the good things in life, et cetera, et cetera. And so we are always going to be predisposed. There are ways around these things, but we can often be predisposed towards. Seeing the world in a way which confer confirms our worst fears about ourselves. And this can make us feel reticent about asking questions because we are afraid of having more evidence.

[00:12:55] That reinforces that self, that self-belief, that self abandonment almost,

[00:13:02] Mark Steadman: So what we need do then is, uh, I guess ask good questions, taking, take a, a coaching approach and, and just. Whether it's ourselves asking questions or, or listening. Listening for others asking questions, and then yeah, stopping and listening and seeing what comes back.

[00:13:19] Anya: Yeah, because it's a long, you know, this idea of, you know, when we work with coach and, you know, both of us, you know, off offer those skills to others. It is this idea of taking someone to the doorway of their own knowledge. I think that's Kahil Gibran. You know, it's using these, the these questions to help people to find, because we get in grooves with our thinking. You know, and actually it's just a way of just nudging people outta those grooves and just finding, oh, there is something else here. You know, one of the, one of the lovely questions that I have on a little post-it note somewhere near here is from P Chodron, um, which I found through Josie George's book are still life.

[00:14:09] Um, You know what else is true? I think, you know, that just in and of itself, you know, you talk about that expansion thing,

[00:14:18] Mark Steadman: Funnily image I've got, I've got an image of a corn of a cornfield and being in a, not necessarily a tractor, but being in a lower vehicle, a, a vehicle that's lower to the ground. Uh, and you've got this huge, you know, these huge ears of corn. And so when you are in that field, all you are seeing is that furrow, and that's all you've got.

[00:14:43] But isn't it amazing to be able to zoom out and actually see, goodness me, there are so many rows either side that I don't have access there isn't a way for me to leap across to the other thorough. But man, there's so many. But we just, we don't see them because we're, we're going down the, uh, the, the, the, the pass into the, the little hole in the Death Star.

[00:15:06] Were just in So we can shoot our into little ppu the, into the hole in the Death Star. But actually there's loads of these little valleys, uh, if we only, uh, zoomed out and um, and took a look.

[00:15:17] Anya: I mean, as you are talking, interestingly, the mental image that comes to my mind is the one which, uh, Anita Mujani talks about. And she is, I, I can't remember the title of her book, but she is, I. She was on her deathbed, she had cancer with lumps all over her and she had an had body experience and she came back and she talks about it, that being in a dark, in a warehouse, in a black warehouse.

[00:15:49] And we have this little torch, which is our light of consciousness. And she talked about her experience when she was in that. That's that state where she was listening to the doctors, talking to her family seeing what they were doing to her body. You know, having the sense of, of all of a sudden all the lights in the warehouse came on.

[00:16:11] All of a sudden she saw everything that was available. Everything that was, that, that, that was, that was in there. And then she said, you know, when she came back into her body, you know, it came back to that little light, that little, but it is that light of a consciousness really, you know, that we're talking about in those things.

[00:16:32] And being able to, and I know that you're, you're, you're exploring this yourself, you know, how can we elevate our position so that we can realize that. It is not inevitable that the groove we are in must in turn, become a rutt and that other things are within our grasp,

[00:16:55] Mark Steadman: That's very much my current area of study. So let us, let us move this into, uh, into, into the practical then. And we, we, the, the first of our, of our three prompt here is um, how often do you stop to ask yourself meaningful questions or a meaningful question?

[00:17:11] Anya: Yeah, because I think, you know, we've mentioned before how we tend to live our life on autopilot and expect what's, you know, past performance to predict future whatever and stuff. And how we can only ask ourselves, you know, the questions that that really we want to be able to answer.

[00:17:27] Mark Steadman: I just had a, I just had a weird image. Sorry. Um, Thinking about grooves and ruts, uh, I used to have a weird, I used to get really unsettled as a kid and unnerved, and I think there's a, there's a bit of me that still is by stuck records.

[00:17:40] Anya: Ooh.

[00:17:41] Mark Steadman: I.

[00:17:42] used to really sort of set me on edge and, and I really kind of, yeah.

[00:17:47] Ooh, it's creepy. Uh, there's something creepy about it. But I was just thinking about asking the question, what would happen if you just, 'cause there's um, there is a Beatles record that has an infinite groove on it. I think it's, is it Abbey Road? I can't remember. It's one of the later albums and it's got, uh, it's probably Sergeant Pepper's actually, and it's got a, an infinite groove.

[00:18:10] And so he would keep playing the same

[00:18:12] and over over and over again. And I was wondering about ruts and grooves and how long would it be for you to be in that rutt or that groove before you actually wear the record out? And that's the, that's the consequence. 'cause people can sit in a rutt or groove and think that's fine.

[00:18:27] Like, I'm fine where I am, but at some point, either the needle's gonna wear out or the, or the record underneath you is gonna wear out. Like you can't exist in that space forever because it is gonna. You know, the world around you is gonna change. And you know, if you don't get out the rut now, at some point the RU'S gonna get out from under you.

[00:18:48] Anya: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, and, and it is this interesting thing of, because I think. One of the reasons why people come to coaches is because there is something that isn't working in their lives that they want to change. it's very, I would imagine it's very rare for someone who's in that, that groove slash rutt and going, well, no, everything's fine, even though like everything is like burning around them.

[00:19:15] 'cause it, because it takes that kind of openness that. Desire to experience something different without it being guaranteed to be better.

[00:19:30] Mark Steadman: Hmm.

[00:19:31] Anya: You know, and, and actually, you know, it is these things where, know, there's loads of books, I'm sure, on Amazon with like lots of like daily prompts to suggest things and, and calendars and things. But just having you can kind of use anything prompt, you know, I, I think a couple of my friends use tarot cards, you know, and I've got a couple of decks myself, and it's not so much the, the divination aspect, although, you know, that is always interesting. In a way you are asking for what a question, a good question can do or a good font can do is to, and it's really funny, I've come up with this image. It puts a different kind of coin in your jukebox. So another track plays. That's the image that coming into my mind because, you know, we tend to play, have a soundtrack to our existence, a soundtrack to our lives.

[00:20:24] Certain songs we're always playing, you know, I, you know, I, I'm not lovable, I'm not enough. Things are always gonna be this way. I'm too old, et cetera, et cetera. You know, it's kind of like we have this, this radio playing in the background of our minds is how would put it? And having a good question, a good prompt. Can force us to jump the needle from a track. They were always playing

[00:20:52] Mark Steadman: Yeah, it's like fonzi bang in the jukebox to

[00:20:54] make it work again.

[00:20:54] Anya: it's exactly like that. you know, I'm talking about either using quite, you know, more esoteric ways, but there are, are a number of science-based Happiness questionnaires available as well.

[00:21:08] And even just. there's a, there'll be a link in the show notes for a page who's got a full explanation and lots of them and lots of links. But even then, just going through the questionnaires and getting the results, again, it's just making us think about things that we may not ordinarily think about our day-to-Day living, know, I'm usually thinking, okay, well I'm gonna have a dinner.

[00:21:30] What, or you know, what, what am I, what am I gonna TV tonight? You know, all, all these kinds of things. Very basic kind of, it's, uh, practical survival questions, you know, but even, you know, no matter how old you are, just kind this idea of, you know, so how, what makes you happy? Or, you know, what do you, what do you want to be when you grow up? You know, and talking to that inner child within ourself, that aspect within ourself that still. Excited or youthful that wants to make and wants to grow and building a relationship again. You know, of the things I like about questions and good questions is how they can deepen intimacy and deepen a relationship. but only if they are of, of a level, which facilitates that. And I think, you know, that's what the next prompt really touches on, you know, what would you love to be asked or ask about? You know, because there'd be aspects of ourselves, which can be unwitnessed or unexpressed

[00:22:33] Mark Steadman: think that's

[00:22:35] Anya: on.

[00:22:36] Mark Steadman: uh, first sort of icebreaker question if you, if you know you are in a sort of safe space with a, with a few people, feels like the kind of thing you wouldn't necessarily do when you are just gonna hang out with people for a 45 minute webinar, but you are gonna hang out over a number of weeks.

[00:22:54] I mean, I'm doing a standup course next year. And it's the kind of thing that I think I. It's a really great question to ask people who don't yet know each other that well. Like, what do you wish people, because you know, one of the, I think one of the, the formulas of that, or one of the, the sort of, yeah, versions of that is like, what do you wish more people knew about you?

[00:23:14] But I also like, yeah, this, question of what would you love to be asked? What, what do people not ask you that you would love to be asked? And I think that's, that's really fun and revealing.

[00:23:24] Anya: Because I think it's, there's also an element of the platinum rule in this. You know, the golden rule is treat others as you wish to be treated. The platinum is, treat them as they wish to be treated. And there's a certain sensitivity and, and, and, and kindness to it to allow someone, yeah, as you say, in that kind of situation, being able to say, given the.

[00:23:53] The permission actually, as much as anything else, the permission to say, actually, you know, I'd really love someone to ask me how is going, or, my sewing project you know, or I'd really love someone to ask me, you know, about, about my son. You know, and you may, and it's all these kinds of being able to share, you know, things that we may be really proud of or, or even, you know, conversely, you know, in longer term relationships actually.

[00:24:19] I think this can be a really interesting question because again, we end up so blinkered and just seeing the image of the person that we have, rather than the person themselves. You know, getting o over, you know, over dinner one night. It's almost like there's a, a lovely bit in um, Hans book every step, and I think he talks about, you know, asking, you know, your, your son or your daughter or your partner, whoever, you know, how can I love you more? being able to be say, you know, honey, you know, is there anything that you wish I would ask you about, a, as a door, as a, as a way to open a door towards, you know, a deeper form of connection because, you know, so many of us have trouble asking for help and require other people to notice.

[00:25:04] And it's, and there's this quote by David Berger which I. do keep joking that there's a, you could do a Bingo card with me. There's like about half a dozen different quotes, which I, it, it's almost like I, I think you shouldn't play the drinking game 'cause you would get drunk. But this, this quote is lovely.

[00:25:22] It's um, being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable. And I think, you know, being able to invite someone to share and open themselves like that, you know, what would you, how would you, what would you like me to ask you about, and then, you know, kind of following up with a question, which.

[00:25:46] Seems so simple, but I actually had to, 'cause I, 'cause I'm not na, naturally a very good conversationalist. Now I've done a lot reading and research of to come up with these things and when I came across this line, you know, and I'm sure it was in some kind of dating context, you know, so if you want to make a guide light up, you know, get them to share what they're interested and then say what's important to you about that.

[00:26:10] You know, and I think it depends on the tone of voice and the things, but it is that thing of, 'cause you know, if you say, well, what's important to you about that? You know, it's kind of like, it's, it's, it's dismissive, but, you know, but the intention there is to say, you know, I want to get to the heart of what it is that draws you to it.

[00:26:28] and you know, this idea of being able to sit down with someone and, and even if you don't use those exact words, you know, say to them or communicate to them in a way that says, you know, this is important to you. You are important to me, therefore, help me to understand why it's important to you, so I you better.

[00:26:51] Mark Steadman: It's the more tolerable version of. Can we just drill down into this or the more despicable? Can we, I just wanna double click on that.

[00:27:03] Anya: Oh,

[00:27:03] Mark Steadman: Uhhuh. Uh, they yeah, yeah. Some sad to report, uh, that double clicking on things in a conversational context.

[00:27:16] Anya: Wow. I ha that's, that's my, my tiny mind is blown.

[00:27:25] Mark Steadman: Not even in a fun way.

[00:27:26] Anya: Not even on the phone though.

[00:27:29] Mark Steadman: Alright, moving things along then. And number three, how can we ask a better question than um, double clicking on that.

[00:27:36] Anya: And yeah, that, I mean, there were loads of, loads of books on this already. 'cause a lot of it comes under, Not always, but generally comes under, you know, how to make better conversation. How to make more persuasive conversation, or how to do better marketing and more business interviewing and things, more business.

[00:27:55] know, there's the general advices, you know, asking things that can't be answered with either a

[00:28:01] Mark Steadman: journalism questions.

[00:28:02] Anya: journal and questions, you know, the whole who, where, what, when, how, and why. And then there's also, you know, for me, you just mentioned about the tone thing, about, you know, what's important to you about, about that?

[00:28:13] for me in particular, and you've touched on this already, using a, using Y can be quite helpful. In the right context. You know, there's something like the, the five why's method, which has been somewhat debunked, but you know, to drill, to drill down, you know, so why, so

[00:28:31] Mark Steadman: Oh, in terms of debunked, in terms of the it, it might not have happened the way people suggest it happened in a car factory in Japan or

[00:28:38] Anya: Uh, no, I think more, more in kind of that, that actually it's can overfocus on there being one, uh, fundamental issue for something when actually it be interplay of things.

[00:28:52] Mark Steadman: Yeah. Well, what, yeah, that's, that's interesting. I think, yes, that, that, that requires judicial application or judicious application of that. 'cause, uh, another approach that I was um, thinking about this morning, what that this book I've been reading got me into was,

[00:29:08] the Mareska Dole.

[00:29:11] You know, the, uh, the Russian doll thing as a, as similar uh, idea and actually viewing the doll itself, and then taking that one and seeing the smaller doll inside and you know, but then again, that presupposes that there is one nucleus, whereas actually, if you look at an onion, there is no center of an onion.

[00:29:28] It's all just more layers. It's literally just more layers. The Japanese five Y's. the end of it, you've like, I've got, I haven't got anything in my hands anymore 'cause I've taken all the layers away there's 'cause all the onion was, was layers. There's nut of an onion.

[00:29:42] Anya: yeah, yeah. And I

[00:29:43] Mark Steadman: all there

[00:29:44] Anya: that's.

[00:29:44] Mark Steadman: so frustrated

[00:29:46] Anya: I don't, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's fine. we welcome everything here. Um, But I think it's also this idea of difference between complicated complex. and Because if something is complicated, then you can drill down to maybe one particular thing that is the root of all of it, but complex.

[00:30:06] It's the interrelationship of different things. And so you can say, yes, it's, it's this, but it's also this, but it's only this when this happens,

[00:30:18] Mark Steadman: yes.

[00:30:21] Anya: you know, which is, but I think I loved it when you mentioned earlier about, moving from to how you know, because I think that can be much more empowering because I think one of the other dangers of why. We are in a negative mindset. I think it's, it's really helpful when we're in a feeling well resourced, well supported.

[00:30:42] We have someone who can then shift us into how, You know, and I think this is where, you know, kind of shifting gears slightly, you know, when we talk to people and trying to elicit how they are, it can be quite challenging sometimes because things are complex rather than complicated. If you ask me right now, you know how, how's, how's life?

[00:31:09] How are things, the social etiquette answer is, oh yeah, no, they're

[00:31:13] Mark Steadman: correct answer to the question how do you do in terms of etiquette is, is how do you do, you're not supposed to, it's, it's, this is, one of those things in polite society, the genuine answer. Because it's not a question, it's a greeting. Um, How do you do, you are supposed to respond. How do you do?

[00:31:28] Well, you know, how do you do? Or, uh, or just hello or, or, you know, tip of the hat or whatever. Uh, in, you know, in England, you're not supposed to answer that actual question.

[00:31:37] Anya: Well, yeah, and even, you know, this, the, you know, the basic question, which sounds like it is much more of a question of how are you, is is really just kind of like, oh, you, yeah, I, I, I acknowledge your presence. I don't actually want to know what your presence is, is like experientially, like right now,

[00:31:55] Mark Steadman: I mean the amount times like me and my brother will, we can go off on, on some, some big, long and interesting tangential conversations over the phone while he's driving to work and I'm sat here and it will always start with, and we could have been texting for hours. Throughout the day and we've got our family text chain or whatever, and we're still open with How are you?

[00:32:14] Yeah. Doing all right. You know, it's, it's, it's the same script. How are you doing? Yeah. Doing all right, kids. All right? Yeah. They're all okay. We've done that. Okay. That's, that's done now. Now we c now we crack on. And it is, it's, it's, it is really just the, I think it is showing care in a sense, but it's not showing.

[00:32:30] That sort of inquisitive, like I, yeah, I really wanna get into it. And, uh, luckily, uh, for, for me and for the listener, you have some um, helpful alternatives.

[00:32:40] Anya: I do, I do. there's in particular, and there's a, there's a book I love, uh, the Coaching Habit by Michael Bunge, Stanya. quite old now, I think. But, and, and there's like, there's a whole set of questions.

[00:32:51] Like, I was so nerdy and I even remembered which notebook I jotted down the questions in and this like,

[00:32:57] Mark Steadman: You're a pro.

[00:32:58] Anya: Yeah. Like ab that's, you know, it's like the all question, the focus question, the foundation question, you know, the strategic, you, it's, it's all very kind of like work orientated. But I really love just like the very opening one, which is, you know, just what's on your mind.

[00:33:13] I think just as the, that that thing of just because it's almost, yes, it might be if you've called someone in to have a, have a, or someone's asked to have a chat with you about something, you know, a specific issue or problem or whatever. And just, you know, if someone is being on, on the usually quiet or.

[00:33:35] Seems preoccupied,

[00:33:37] Mark Steadman: Ben for your thoughts.

[00:33:39] Anya: Exactly, exactly. It's just kind of, yeah. You know, what, what's on your mind as, as, as a nice, as a nice gentle opener? One and two. The, the second one I've used, I've used a lot actually as, as part of my, um. previous time doing a lot of facilitation for a, not, not-for-profit.

[00:34:01] And it is, how is your internal weather? And I think, you know, it's been really interesting to use this you know, when I, when I was FCI facilitating in real life actually. 'cause it is not just ' cause it's, it's, it's basically saying this asking the same sort of thing of, you know, how, you know, how are you, how are you feeling?

[00:34:17] Mark Steadman: I the layer abstraction is what is useful there because it's, it puts a really useful layer in between your feelings and how they might be interpreted or what the expectation is. 'cause I think part of what's useful about that, there's nothing to be done about weather. From, you know, weather doesn't happen at us.

[00:34:40] Uh, we, you know, and so someone else's weather is not our responsibility to change. Whereas if you say, I've just had a difficult conversation with my partner, I think there is, you know, if you are a well-meaning person, there's. You probably think I'm, am I supposed to dig into that now? Like, is that, is that what the conversation's about?

[00:35:00] Whereas if it's, I'm feeling a bit stormy, difficult conversation. But you know, there, there is that, that useful sort of armor of, or that, that layer of it being this is simply the, the description or this is the outward facing sort of manifestation of what the issue is without us feeling then that we've gotta fix it.

[00:35:20] 'cause you can't fix the weather.

[00:35:22] Anya: Yeah. And there's also, you know, the aspect of weather as being primarily transitory. You know, cer certainly, you know, I mean, o obviously I've got a bit of a bias, and I think maybe you have as well, being in can, you know, a crowded house, put it for seasons in one day. Yeah. In one day, you know, and so, and so just recognizing this is the almost, uh. An element of this of no bad, no matter how stormy that weather is, it, these storms will pass. And, and also, you know, if the weather is glorious, you know, encouraging us to, to really savor it and bask in it. But yeah, and I think, you know, you're right about that abstraction, having that one removed, but also it helps the speaker as well because, you know, we. It's, it's, you're basically telling the story. You know, sometimes someone just might say, oh, you know, I'm very, I'm very stormy, I'm very sunny. You know, if you ask me, you know, like 30 seconds later you're going, wow, this is a Hallmark movie. You know, I'm saying, you know, there's a storm on the edge of here.

[00:36:25] It's rolling here, but it's sunny here, you know, but it's still like damp patches where it's raining earlier and then, you know, but. And it's like about four o'clock in the afternoon. You know, I'd like you get a ho

[00:36:37] Mark Steadman: shipping

[00:36:38] Anya: like

[00:36:39] Mark Steadman: forecast.

[00:36:40] Anya: pretty much, you know? But also, actually it's really interesting I've done it in person, you know, having someone say, you know, with crossed arms and a doo expression. Yeah, no, feeling sunny. I'm just actually noticing, you know, particularly as a facilitator.

[00:36:59] You know, getting a read on, on someone just from how they even respond to something like that, And then I think the last question you know, to do it in, in this prompt, you know, is how is your heart feeling? And I think this one is. We're kind of going from like, you know, someone who we work with, you know, someone who we are to, someone who we might be spending some time with, maybe, you know, in a session.

[00:37:27] But I think, you know, how is your heart feeling is something, a beautiful question to ask someone who we have deeper relationship with or want to foster a deeper relationship with. 'cause again, you know, you're kind of moving into that most personal, most intimate space. Of, of one's heart and actually, you know, asking someone how you know about that specifically, you know, yes, it can be like a, a level of abstraction or my heart is feeling heavy or light or whatever.

[00:37:58] But it also helps the, it's an invitation for that person to, to take a, to take a moment to take a beat and place a hand on their chest and go, okay, how is my emotional self doing right now? What is. Going on inside me, what would potentially be of comfort right now?

[00:38:19] Mark Steadman: There's also, this is a, a, a different, uh, a different tack, but a question that's occurred to me and I, I, I wish I would remember to answer, to ask this more, which is if I could wave a magic wand, what would I like to be different? Just in a, you know, in a, in a, as I say, it's a, it's, it's not an icebreaker question, but if you are stuck with a situation that you wanna help someone with a transition that, you know, a, a, a, yeah, a, a a place that you, or transformation that you're trying to move people from, and to just asking that question of like, effectively in an ideal world, but by, by making it magic, it's like it removes all of those potential barriers.

[00:39:02] And just saying it in a magic world, if you could wave a magic wand, what would be different? I dunno. I think there, there's, there's something that I obviously connected it to with, in terms of, of how your heart's feeling. But that connection, I'm not entirely sure. Uh, it's as solid as it, as it it was in my brain originally.

[00:39:20] Anya: But actually I, if, if it's, if I may, I can make the connection because that question of, you know, if I had a magic wand, it's often used in acceptance of commitment training as a way to establish values. And the way that I think of values is, you know, very much from, you know, Dr. Ru, you know, with Russ Harris and his idea of, you know, your hearts decide who you want to be in the world,

[00:39:43] Mark Steadman: saved it. Thank you

[00:39:44] Anya: You're very welcome. This is why we good team, baby.

[00:39:47] make such a

[00:39:49] Mark Steadman: us Why don't you close out there, Anya.

[00:39:51] Anya: will do. And now, you know, if you've been listening to this and feeling your own energy around questions and the kind of questions that you may or may not want to, uh, answer in your life or the kind of questions that you might want to ask others. It felt only fitting for me to invite a question, which often comes after these other questions of, you know, perhaps what's on your mind.

[00:40:23] You know, how's your internal weather? Or even, you know, how's your heart feeling? You know, if you've asked yourself those questions during these last, these last few minutes with each other, I'd love for you to ask yourself right now, what do you need right now to best take care of yourself? Because I think this can be one of the hardest questions sometimes, and also one of the most important ones to answer because if we are not attentive to our own needs, how can we be fully resourced to love and meet another person's?

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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