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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