One Idea That Changes Your Life

There’s a recent Ask Hacker News thread about one idea that changes someone’s life. Here are some parts that I find illuminating.

Interrogative-led questions:

Favor interrogative-led questions over leading questions.
A leading question attempts to get the listener to agree or disagree with a premise you feed to them.

An interrogative-led question often begins with the words: who; where; what; when; why.

Imagine the responses to these two questions:
– “Did you like the movie?” (Leading)
– “What did you think about the movie?” (Interrogative-led)
Asking good interrogative-led questions is essential for above-average results in many pursuits: science; engineering; interviewing; and negotiation; to name a few. It can also be an important way to de-escalate tense situations. I’ve found it especially useful when talking to subject matter experts when trying to learn something about areas I know little.


Assume Positive Intent:

This might be super basic, but… assume positive intent.

Your parent is not your enemy. Your teacher is not your enemy. Your boss is not your enemy. The other team at work is not your enemy. The corporation is not your enemy. The other political party is not your enemy. Or, more accurately, YOU are not THEIR enemy. At best, you’re an NPC in their game. Many of them probably even want to help you, because you are another person in the world, and that feels good.

I take back what I said about this being basic. The first steps (learning your parent, teacher, boss are on your side) is pretty basic. But applying this concept to more complex systems, like corporations and communities, can be pretty advanced. But at the end of the day, what it means is that, most of the time there isn’t a conspiracy against you, there are simply incentives that you don’t understand.


On Being Correct:

No matter how correct you are, you won’t get anywhere by making the other person feel stupid.


Putting Down Thoughts Into Words:

One thing that’s been super meaningful for me is the notion that if you don’t put something into words, either in speech or in your head or on paper, you don’t know anything about it, even if it’s a feeling or a belief or an intuition deep within you that you’ve held for as long as you can remember.

The act of simply putting a thought into words makes it immediately obvious to you if you really understand it or not, and if not, where your blind spots are.

If the thing you’re concerned with is an unresolved problem or a question, simply articulating the problem or the question can make the solution or the answer obvious. Just going through the process of putting it into words, one way or another, and being sure you’ve settled on the most concise and accurate description of it you can muster, will often make so many things that were hazy obvious, and can reveal to you areas of haziness in your own thinking that you may not have been aware of.


One reply on “One Idea That Changes Your Life”

Couldn’t help myself not comment and say how much I loved this:

“No matter how correct you are, you won’t get anywhere by making the other person feel stupid.”

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