If you, like me, love to ask questions, this is a cautionary tale.
Sometimes, you will ask a question you regret. Or wish you asked a question, but didn’t.
So, how do we decide when to focus on asking questions?
When to avoid questions
- Whether a person tells you they are getting married or that they have cancer, a big declaration needs space. Start with pure acknowledgement. Wow, that is terrific. Congratulations or, Oh, that is awful. I am so sorry to hear that you are sick.
- If your question is a judgement in disguise, hold fire. “Are you sure you want to marry John?” “Is this the best you can do on this report?”
- Sometimes confronting questions are good and appropriate, for example, when a journalist asks a politician to justify a decision. However, confronting questions escalate conflict and emotion, so use them wisely. “You’ve made a big mistake, so what are you going to do about it?” is a question unlikely to draw a wise response from a colleague or report.
Three big moments to focus on questions
- If a person at work or home is disengaged, distracted or upset and it is your role (as a friend, partner or leader) to discover what is bothering them, asking questions may help them find a way to address it.
- Whenever you are working under pressure it seems like there is never enough time for questions. But asking as many questions as possible before every decision saves time later on. For example, when scoping a problem or project, gain as much information as you can to work efficiently.
- When you first meet a client. Research suggests that you should spend only 25% of the time speaking in a first sales meeting. Asking questions allows you to give your prospective client the floor to build trust in you.
Questions are powerful and must be used wisely to deliver benefits.
Would you like to use questions to:
- Change your mood or mind
- Improve productivity and engagement (yours or others)
- Save time and be more productive
- Write a book
Please book in a 15-minute call to discuss how I can help you.