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Zero to Ten
One of the most useful things I have learned is how to use the "zero to ten" question. For example, I have learned to ask people"
A friend helped me learn this while I was in the process of writing my first book, back in 1996. I had been using a scale for feelings from 1-10, but then she told me it would be better if the scale started at zero because there would be times when a person felt nothing of the particular emotion.
People from English speaking countries are more used to saying "From 1-10," so when I try to teach my 0-10 system people often replace it with a 1-10. I usually try to show them that it is necessary to say "0-10" with a simple example.
I ask them which they scale they would prefer to use if I asked them how much they hate me. In other words, would they prefer to have a scale of 1-10 or 0-10 to answer the question. So far, I am happy to report that all of my friends have said they prefer to use a 0-10 scale because they don't hate me at all, so even saying "1" would be too much.
Often in society we ask yes or no questions. Many times it would be more helpful, and I would say more emotionally intelligent, to ask these questions in the form of 0-10 questions.
Consider the simple question of "Is it ok if ...."
One day I asked someone who was working for me to do something. He replied, "Is it ok if I check my mail first?" I said yes. But later I realized that it was not totally ok with me. I felt a need for his help right then, not 20 minutes later. By that time, I had already done what I had wanted him to help me with.
I realized it would be much more helpful to ask the question this way, "How ok would it be if I check my mail first." In that case, had he asked it that way, I would probably have said 6. This would imply that it was just barely more ok than not ok. With that more specific information, he might have then decided to help me and check his mail later.
My partner and I now have the habbit of asking each other "How ok are you?" Most people will just say instead, "Are you ok?" But what does this really tell us? I have found that it tells us very little.
So my partner and I ask, "how ok are you?" When we are sending a text message we say "hkru" and then we answer with a number between 0 and 10.
This gives us more specific and more useful information in a very practical and efficient way.
Do you need your laptop today?
One day I heard one of our housemates say "Do you need your laptop today?" My partner and I discussed this question. We talked about why it might be more helpful to say, "How ok is it if I take your laptop with me to the university today?"
My partner said that asking the question this way is like an invitation to the person to let them discuss it and explain their feelings about what is being asked.
Note about abuse and depression
We also agreed that if a person has been abused, it is very hard for them to say no. It is also hard for many abused people to tell others how they really feel and what they need. They want to avoid conflicts at all cost. And they don't want to be a burden or cause anyone else problems, so the you make it for them
When a person is depressed it means their energy level is low. They feel weak. It takes effort to explain why it isn't totally ok when someone asks you an "Is it ok" question.
So many depressed and or abused people will say something is ok, when it really isn't, or at least when it is not ok 10 out of 10.
Over time, this obviously creates problems.
So we recommend trying to ask "How ok is it.... from 0-10?"
Some people intentionally ask a question that they know is difficult for you to say no to.
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