There is power in asking questions. The right questions can help you get to the bottom of the issue, uncover motives, stop conflict, build trust, break down walls and even influence others to see your point of view.
But how do you ask the right questions? Particularly in scenarios where people may be reluctant to give you the information you need? Here are three ways to help you ask better questions so you can get better answers.
1. Frame your questions carefully
Before you talk to the person, prepare and think about what it is you want to get them to open up about. What questions do you need to ask? How many different ways might you need to ask the question and how deep do you need to go?
Preparing and framing your questions helps to open them up and relax them. For example asking, “What do you think is stopping you from achieving your goal?” is far better than “Why didn’t you achieve your goal?”
The first question will allow the person to stop and think and be more focused on the solution, rather than closed and defensive. This builds trust as you are showing you value their thoughts and opinions and that you are looking to collaborate to rectify the problem
2. Avoid the ‘interrogation’ line of questioning
When you have to ask a lot of probing questions, and there are times in leadership where you need to, it can be easy to come across as an interrogator, even with the best of intentions.
If you find yourself in a position where you do need to ask more investigative questions to get to key issues, consider your tone of voice and body language through this process. If you are speaking in a softer tone, sitting in a relaxed position, nodding or leaning in and showing an interest in what they have to say, your questions are more likely to be well received.
3. Avoid leading questions
While leading questions are beneficial in sales, they are not always the best or most ethical questions when it comes to communicating with your team.
Open-ended questions are best; they help you discover your teams’ ideas, concerns and challenges, which can be far more valuable to you in the long run.
Could the way you ask questions be impacting on the answers you receive? What can you do this coming week to make sure you ask better questions of your team? I would love to hear your questions.