The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world

What is the right question?

By Laura Lee Rose, author of TimePeace: Making peace with time

In the last article, we see how I could have avoided a lot of frustration and failure if I had simply asked a simple question.  It is the same in our business and work dealings.  Asking the right question will save us time and increase our proficiency and productivity.  At the end of the day, we will feel more accomplished and more confident.

What stops us from asking the right questions in the corporate, business and work environment?

Majority of folks do not make the mistake of ‘asking the wrong question’.  Even what you may feel is the ‘wrong question’, can lead to a correction in perspective which leads you to the right question.  Therefore, there is no such thing as a ‘wrong question’.

But the fear of ‘asking the wrong question’ often blocks people from asking any questions as all.  And there is the mistake.

Recommendation:  Consider the act of ‘asking question’, merely as a tool to gather additional data.  We’re on a fact-finding mission to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Triple Play – Questions in 3-scenarios

Individual:  Use questions to illustrate your interest in a shared topic or hobby. (Instead of telling people what and how you do things, ask them their opinions and strategies. )
Professional: Use open ended questions (versus “yes/no” answers), to illicit more details and insights into your co-workers concerns and pattern of thought. (You will find that with Open Ended questions, you end up asking fewer questions in general. Check your purpose and goal.  If your goal is to building a positive, co-creative, equal, professional relationship, then Yes/No questions or providing unsolicited corrections on trivial details is not as effective.  Instead focus on the Big Picture and ask them how they came up with the marvelous concept in the first place to foster the collaboration. On the other hand, Yes/No questions and editing/correcting are very appropriate for quick ‘fire-fighting’ management issues. As you can see, all types of communication has it’s purpose.  Just determine your goal and you can pick the appropriate type of question to accomplish it.  If you don’t take the time to clarify your purpose/goal, you risk selecting the inappropriate route.)
Entrepreneurial: Use leading questions to guide your potential clients in the direction and conclusion that is most beneficial for your product or service. (Design your questions with a specific goal in mind.  For example: My goal is to get them to ask for more information on my product.  My goals is for them to be open to a follow-up meeting for more information on my service.  Therefore, I will ask questions that will highlight their pain-points and problems.  Once the problem has been clarified in their perspective, I can share my product solutions in that same perspective.)


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About the Author

Laura is a Corporate Exit Strategist for the Blooming Entrepreneur. She is a certified business and personal life coach, specializing in time management skills, project management training and work/life balance strategies. She has been in the software and testing industry for over 20 years. She’s worked with such companies as IBM, Ericsson, Staples, Fidelity Investments and Sogeti in various client advocacy and project management roles. The techniques she uses in her business coaching and client advocacy work saved these companies both time and money, which resulted in on-time, quality product delivery with higher client satisfaction. Laura now uses her client focus, project, quality and people management skills in her personal life coaching career. As a personal life coach, she helps people transform their life by integrating their goals and dreams into their everyday lives. Laura uses creative and practical tools to help her clients realize what really matters to them. She helps others to easily transition into their next chapter whether it’s the next ladder of success within their corporate environment or into the entrepreneurial playground. I am not a fan of choosing to act in spite of fear. Rather, together we will collaborate toward a plan of inspired action. We will develop a plan together that you feel confident and excited about. For us, Taking The Leap will be magical, exhilarating and natural. If you are eager to take that next logical step but are unsure what it is signup for the Corporate Exit Strategy Coaching group. We have books, tapes, training materials, twice-monthly group coaching events, 3-day workshops, and individual coaching sessions to help you on your way toward your freedom and prosperity.
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