Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Estates & Wills & Trusts, Tax

Questions an effective decision-making tool

Instead of pushing your point of view on a colleague, a preferable approach is to ask questions that prompt an individual to come to their own conclusion on an issue, Calgary tax and fiduciary services lawyer Dennis Nerland tells The Lawyers Weekly.

As Nerland, a founding partner of Shea Nerland Law and leader of the firm's tax and estate planning practice, says in the article, he favours asking Socratic questions designed to encourage the other person to think matters through and reach their own decision.

“There’s a tool we use here called the Five Whys. If someone says something, you ask why five times. Whoever’s on the receiving end comes to self-realize the answer,” he says.

Nerland says these questions have worked when he’s needed to discuss performance issues with employees.

“If something goes wrong, I’d ask what happened. There’s no way in the world I can say you need to change this, this, and this, or you’re gone. That won’t work. With the Five Whys they figure it out on their own.”

Nerland tells The Lawyers Weekly this approach also works on the intellectual issues lawyers often face. 

For example, when he wanted to persuade a colleague to adopt a risk-management approach rather than an hourly model for billing on a case, Nerland says he asked questions rather than pushing his point of view. The result was he effectively persuaded his colleague to reach a logical conclusion on his own.

“I didn’t convince him of anything, he convinced himself.”

To Read More Dennis L. Nerland Posts Click Here
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