I had a conversation today and it struck me that we very often don’t ask the right questions.
Asking the wrong questions can lead a conversation to definite failure and a complete breakdown of communication.
On the other hand, ask the right question and you can open up peoples thought processes; altering and elevating the course of a discussion into a positive experience, that can fill you and your colleagues with confidence.
Three top tips for asking the right questions:
1. Ask open-ended questions
Questions you can answer with a “yes” or “no” are closed-ended. They are unlikely to generate discussions and the insight you get will be limited.
So ask a question that provokes a full response eg: “why do you think the feedback was negative from your report? ” Rather than “Are you happy with the feedback from your report?”
2. Facts or plain old speculation…
Ask questions that force others to prove the fact behind the statements they are making.
Questions such as “Do you know that to be a fact?” If so, “How do you know?” Allow you to gain more understanding. You can usually sense when there is little substance behind a statement, so as long as you are firm but polite ask those questions!
3. Get both sides of the story
It is so easy to hear one side of the story, act on the information, and then be embarrassed when you find out that you only had half the facts.
I have to constantly remind myself to peel back the layers and ask the difficult questions, because if I act on half the facts I only have myself to blame!