How to Use the Best Hopes Question
I get a lot of emails and social media messages and social media comments of people asking questions that makes me think you don’t quite understand the best hopes question and what we’re trying to accomplish in asking the best question, and what we mean when we say getting an outcome. See people ask me all the time, things like, so if you have a client that has been through a divorce or has the trauma happened, or these sorts of things, how do you help them?
And the simple truth is you have to understand the best hopes question in order to understand that. Now the best hopes question is, “What are your best hopes from this conversation?” Right! Now I think too often we focus on the ‘best hopes’ part and not on the ‘from this conversation’ part, because I’m not asking what are your best hopes I’m asking what is the outcome that you’d like to see from this interaction?
Right? So for example, when people, I’m telling you, I get this question so frequently about things like grief and loss. They say things like, “I’m afraid to ask my client, what are your best hopes? Because they’re going to tell me they want their loved one to be back”, but you have to understand, people don’t say, “What are your best hopes from our talking?”, “I want my loved one to come back”, because they understand that that’s not within my job description. That is not within my remit.
So it’s really important that you understand that the ‘from this conversation’ is just as important as the ‘best hopes’ part of that question. Because if I say, “What are your best hopes from this conversation?” and the client does say, “I would like my lost, loved one to come back”. I’m able to say, “So what difference would it make to you if your lost loved one were to come back”. Then the person can say, “I’d be happy again”. And then I’ll be able to start by saying, “So if somehow our conversation helped you become happy again now that the loved one has passed, what would you notice?”
And we can focus on that, because this is our job description. I don’t have the type of job where I can bring a lost, loved ones back, or I don’t have the type of job where I can erase the trauma, or I don’t have the type of job where I can snap my fingers and fix your anxiety. What I do have is the ability to help you describe the future you would like to live in, in reality. And that makes the ‘from this conversation’ part of the question, just as valuable as the ‘what are your best hopes’ part of this conversation.
But I think too often, we focus on the ‘what are your best hopes’ part and we just think, oh my gosh, it’s my job to ask my client “What are your best hopes?”. And they’re going to tell me they want something impossible, but once you put on the ‘from this conversation’, that’s what makes it real. That’s what makes it an achievable outcome and something that could be the likely outcome if I do my job really well, and the client does their job really well, the likely outcome could be whatever this thing is. So just remember the, ‘from this conversation’ part is just as important as the ‘what are your best hopes’ part and you can’t leave it off.
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