Are you asking the right questions?
At school, we're trained to provide well-structured responses to get a good grade. At work, everyone seems focused on finding solutions to problems and obstacles.
While answers are essential, it often pays to think about what we could be asking. Too often, we overlook the importance of asking insightful, probing and revealing questions.
I believe that great leaders ask intelligent questions to drive an idea ahead, guide a team to better understanding, inspire, achieve buy-in and develop relationships.
Understanding what isn't stated (nonverbal gestures) is also crucial in framing your next question. Whether you're speaking with a customer, co-worker, family member or friend, asking the appropriate question at the right moment can have a significant impact.
Are you asking the right questions? Here are a few of my favourites:
How are we going to make it happen?
Even if the concept appears difficult, I prefer to pose this question to get us to address the 'how', rather than considering 'who' or 'what' needs to be engaged.
What would you do if you had to make the call right now?
This is a powerful sales question that may also be used to help someone else make a choice. You'll get a sense of which way they're leaning while keeping in mind that they may not have all the information they need to make a choice.
Is there anything else you require to help make up your mind?
This can be asked after a proposal or discussion. It is an essential question in marketing, but it is also remarkably effective with teams when making decisions.
Why do things the way we do them?
I find this one of the most effective questions since it helps me identify what works and where the gaps are. It is normally the start of a longer conversation that leads to ongoing development.
TAKEAWAY: Questions are a vital tool for seeking out key information that helps us understand people, drivers, approaches and effects. Asking questions allows us to redirect our thinking. The right question may be a transformative agent, piercing years of complacency and diverting a team's or company's attention. It acts as a point of reference, guiding us in the right direction.