Two questions to turn down the heat and refocus

At the beginning of the week, everything was going great—smiles and laughter. By the end of the day on Thursday, a key collaborator was considering walking away from the project.

With an unmovable and very public deadline approaching, how was this group going to move forward?

As the project manager, I asked each team member two questions:

  • What is working well for you?


  • What do you need to feel supported and ready to deliver the project on time?

Through these conversations, I learned that the situation was not as tenuous as it initially seemed. Several folks shared similar ideas to adapt the process to be more effective. We made a small change and delivered on time with no further conflict.

These two questions worked together to keep the tone of the conversation positive and focused on the shared goal while gathering input on how to meet individual needs.

If I started with a question about diagnosing the problem, I could have shifted the conversation into blaming and litigation. There is a time and place for accountability, and sometimes what we need are tools to put our conflicts on pause and refocus on the project.

Next time you find yourself butting heads with your collaborators, try taking a pause and asking these two questions.

June 1, 2023 Questions Conflict Collaboration

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