Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Are You an Expert Question Asker?

Questions Are a Powerful Communication Tool

In the spirit of the 1% - one skill for sure we need to have in our professional skill portfolio is the ability to ask the right, the best question.

Why? Questions are a highly effective and necessary communication tool in many ways.

Here are just a few powerful uses of the question:
__  it stirs and speaks to the subconscious (where everything we really are is housed; especially our core truths).
__ it helps people learn how to think, process, and come to their own conclusion (very useful in persuasion).
__ it helps people consider a new line of thought
__ it's a way of building rapport
__ a way of expressing care and concern
__ it's a great way to communicate with someone who resists being "told" what to do
__ it helps quickly redirect an unpleasant conversation

Questions provoke, inspire, lead, teach, motivate to name a few - thereby making it an essential element for your personal and professional communication toolkit.

Of course how you ask a question matters as well.   For example if it's done with an "interrogating" tone...that may evoke the opposite of what you want - shutting someone down vs. opening someone up.
Tone in communication can be used very strategically.

Question Asking 101
One of the easiest ways to get started developing the skill of question asking is starting with what I call the power 6 - 6 words we learned in our elementary years: who, what, when, where, how, why. I recommend you begin practicing with these.

For some of us (those with management styles that are more directing), getting the feeling of and developing the habit of being an "asker vs. a teller" will be a very interesting and informative practice.

Additionally as you use these questions, determine what you want to accomplish with them.  Do you want to...

  • have someone consider something different?
  • teach them a lesson?
  • encourage them to learn to problem solve via developing options?
  • feel cared for

So here is our coaching question from this 1% lesson - In what area(s) do you need to enhance your communication effectiveness?  How can being a skilled question asker help you achieve that?...and ok...I can't resist - 1 more question - What are the benefits of developing this skill? you? your team?

By the way, the book this blog is based on is in the question format.  The book is designed as a coaching book - it's more of an "asking" book vs. a "telling" book. If you haven't gotten a copy yet, I recommend the workbook version - which includes the questions.  This version is also available on Kindle. - E-store  (scroll to the bottom)
Bonus Tip: Take the time to consider how your fellow team members communicate. Observe. Do you think your team or department could benefit for a communications or team building workshop? I consider the ability to work effectively with others an essential individual contributor core competency. Learn about that and employee trainings in this category.
This blog is based on this book. In it are actionable ideas on being a better manager: The 1% Edge - The Workbook - Power Strategies to Increase Your Management Effectiveness

Check out our latest releases: Brain on Fire & 15 Shifts - E-store


  1. // You're paid to know things / You're paid to aks things, as well / Asking feeds Knowing //

    1. Well said and you're right!....though it's surprising how many managers don't have that on their radar...traditional leadership and management has been more about "telling" vs. "asking."
      Thanks for the comment!