When was the last time you thought about the use of questioning as one of the most powerful tools in influence and persuasion?
You see, the best communicators in the world have mastered the art of asking great questions and truly understand how this skill leads to better connection with those that they influence.
If you look at it in it’s most basic form, the mere act of asking questions and gathering answers is a means of communication.
The word communication comes from the latin word communis, meaning “common”. So in order to establish true connection and communicate effectively with another person, we need to establish that commonality.
The greater the commonality, the greater the potential for connection and the easier communication becomes.
Thoughtful questioning fosters an environment of vulnerability, authenticity, and trustworthiness between both parties involved in the conversation.
So first, I wanted to share a couple simple truths that may seem common sense as far as how to go about asking the right questions, but we have all heard that common sense is not always common practice.
Truth 1. You only get answers to the questions you ask.
Although sometimes we think we are mind readers, we cannot have it all figured out 100% of the time..so If you want answers – you need to ask the questions.
Truth 2. Questions unlock and open doors that otherwise will remain closed
Questions are the way that we actually make progress towards and take someone down a journey to walk through doors they may not have entered on their own. Take the lead.
Truth 3. Asking good questions actually expands our own perspective as a leader
Do you ever get fixated on your own point of view and try to convince the other person of your opinion before really understanding theirs?
Don’t forget that through thoughtful questioning, the bonus is we learn more about ourselves and our own levels of understanding by listening to others explain theirs.
Sometimes when we go to influence, we believe people are good at the same things we are good at, energized by the same ideas, or are able to look at the big picture the same way we do …and the truth is they are not. This is simply just an assumption we make on our part.
There is a quote that says “Before you attempt to set things right, make sure you see things right”
Remember what we are trying to create through thoughtful questioning with those that we already do or hope to influence, which is vulnerability and transparency. It helps to have some good ideas on questions handy.
5 Open Ended Questions to Ask People you Lead or Influence:
- What do you think?
- How can I best support you?
- What did you learn?
- How do we make the most of this opportunity?
- What would things look like if you were successful?
Try out one or more of these questions at your next opportunity to connect at a deeper level with someone on your team, and watch how your communication improves.
“Good leaders ask questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more.” – John Maxwell