It's a question that's helped me a lot, especially when I was afraid to do something. I'm basically an introvert and when I was growing up I was quite shy. With time I've lost a lot of that, but whenever I was in a situation when I had to deal with conflict involving another person, I was often afraid to do it. So very often I didn't, but then I would feel dissatisfied with the situation.
So once I was telling my director about this and she asked a simple question: "What would happen?"
What would happen? What would happen if I actually did go to this person and bring up a difficult subject? Realistically, what would happen? Most of the time, the worst that would happen is that the other person would get angry at me, dislike me and possibly reject me. Or perhaps the person would humiliate me in public, call me names or then spread rumors about me. And if that did happen, so what? Would it really matter? For the moment it would hurt, but if someone really treated me like that would I want her for a friend?
I realized that 9 times out of 10 the worst doesn't happen. Perhaps there's a disagreement and a few sharp words, but then it's over. And then a funny thing starts to happen: when I deal with issues I used to avoid, I feel better about myself, the situation, and the other person. And if something bad does happen, I find out I can deal with it.
It's a simple but great question: what would happen?