We ask questions all day long to collect information, to help us in our decision making, to deepen dialogue, build rapport, and to create understanding. Knowing what question to ask and how best to ask it can be challenging work.
Regardless of how you do it, the question will create a ripple effect in the conversation, leading either to large turbulent waves or calm ripples of clarity. If it’s the latter you are seeking then keep these tips in mind when asking questions.
- Be internally and externally clear on the intention of your question. You need to know first why you are asking what you are asking and then the receiver needs to know. This often removes mystery so the receiver doesn’t have to guess at the intention and can focus on getting you the information you are requesting.
- Ask questions that are linked to the flow of the conversation. This means you need to track the conversation so you don’t ask random questions, the relevance of which may only make sense to you.
- Ask questions that help you clarify the other person’s perspective, message or intended meaning. If you operate with genuine curiousity this will be easier to do. It is the equivalent to watching a play and then peeking behind the curtain to discover what is going on backstage that allows you to understand the front stage action.
- Manage your tone, volume, speed of speech and body language as you ask your question. People pay a lot more attention to how we sound and look vs. what we actually say!
- Ask your question once and pause. The receiver needs space to respond.
- Honor the response by acknowledging it.
- Blend in a healthy and balanced dosage of your perspective and repeat 1-6 as needed!
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