Cousin Izzit


Cousin It, diminutive member of Addams Family fame, had an IQ of 320 and talked at approximately the same pace in miles per hour!  His genius was lost on all but his closest family members.  What was he saying? None of us knows, and it’s my guess that he talked fast because he was asking the questions and also giving us the answers.  

The most decelerating question you can ask is the one that immediately follows a powerful question.  So many of us do it.  

We land really great questions that begin with What, How and Why and then immediately fill that uncomfortable space following the power of that question with “Is it this, or that?” (Here’s a short video about Izzit?) While there’s plenty of conversation around listening, the act of “listening to connect” requires that we conversationalists remove judgement from the equation. When we provide possible answers as part of our question, we are needlessly inserting ourselves into that curiosity. Our experiences, biases, feelings and preconceived notions lead our counterpoint, thereby closing off the opportunity to really learn something new! It limits conversational space!


Being good at conversation starts with being curious.  At the top of the conversational pyramid are power questions that begin with What, How, and Why? (Where and When have purpose and lean toward our agenda.)

What decelerates these power questions is when, after asking one of these questions, we step on it immediately with possible outcomes or answers.  The ability to just shut up after asking a powerful question is hard because hearing these questions can be uncomfortable , let alone hearing them come from us! 

So, we decelerate them by adding in a few possible answers or direction.  “What makes that important to you?” is immediately followed by “Would it be about cost, or maybe, delivery dates?”

Well what if it’s neither?! 

Hit the brakes Cousin, put your hand over your mouth, let the truly curious and powerful question work for both you and your counterpoint.  Slow down and give them some space. Great things can happen when we leverage — and don’t interrupt — the power of language and curiosity.  

I guide emerging sales professionals to build trust, become more relevant, and surpass their competitors, thereby creating the ultimate personal, professional, and financial success for them and their businesses.”  What could your next version of you, the emerging sales professional, be like if your approach was to focus on another’s agenda first? Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!

join the pod
Subscribe to get SPH in your inbox and be notified about new podcasts, webinars, events and more.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Posted in


  1. Carole Loomis on July 12, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    White space – in the air or on the page – is always a good thing. Thanks for the reminder.
    Extra credit for evoking the Adams Family!

    • Joe Schum on July 12, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Carole! Yes, so much gets missed when we apply our judgments, feelings, biases, experiences into our questions and conversation. And truthfully, we’re talking Adams Family here. Enough said! Thanks for weighing in.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Be big. Be cool. Be hippo.

Ready to get started?

hippo surfacing
Share This