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The One Word That Pushes Me into a Can Do Attitude

“Can you do [insert request here]?”

As I keep growing in my career I end up on the receiving end of this question more frequently than before. Sometimes it tickles me pink to be considered capable of potentially fulfilling a duty. However, by answering yes or no I find that the conversation ends there. When I say yes, I pat myself on the back (figuratively) and think nothing of it. If I say no, I also think nothing of it.

Recently I’ve concluded that if I receive this question some followup will likely occur. However, a yes/no question automatically triggers a “efficiency protocol” where I’ve fulfilled the needs of the question and therefore need not take initiative. So how do I force myself to keep thinking of the question and take initiative?

I add “How” to the beginning of the question.

For example, I was recently asked, “Can you write this process in time?” I changed the question internally to “How can I write this process in time?” Immediately my mind cleared my schedule, and I started creating milestones of what I should get done and when. This helped me break the problem into smaller components, making it seem more realistic to accomplish.

Another benefit of this approach: it calms me down. Sometimes I get caught off guard by these questions, because in the split second following the question I internally panic and wonder whether I can get it done. This happens most of the time, whether the task is easy or difficult. Once I’ve broken the problem down the anxiety subsides because I’ve already conquered half the work of finishing the task.

Unfortunately, this approach does not satisfy the verbal confirmation needed by the person asking me such questions. I need to work on my confidence and do all of this processing as quickly as possible before I can provide a “Yes” answer. I am hesitant to make promises when I feel like I have not had time to think about such things. That being said, by adding the “how” to the question, I’ve trained myself to think hard about finding solutions to problems. The more practice I get, the easier it becomes.