Quickly Supercharge Your Professional Relationships: It Comes Down to a Simple Question
Success is very dependent on development, and here is one of the easiest and quickest ways to develop yourself and those around you. It all starts with a question.
What’s the best thing that could happen to you right now? What would happen if you doubled your sales? What if you got twice as much done in your day? What would it be like if all your business and personal relationships were effortless? What could you do to make your business thrive?
Ask yourself: Are you asking enough questions every day?
For most of us, the answer is ‘no.’ Let’s take a look at why...
To start, what do all those above questions have in common? Obviously they are all questions. Nothing shocking there.
They are completely open-ended questions. They don’t look for a “yes” or a “no” but instead for some original thought in the answer.
They don’t communicate judgment or bias towards the pending answers. Also, they don’t imply an expectation of specific answers. Therefore, because they are “opinion neutral” and open-ended, they empower the person being asked to come up with their own original answer, leading to creative thinking, new ideas and better results.
Finally, they all start with the word “what”. As we all learned in school, questions can start with many different words, and we’ve been taught to mix it up. But the questions above, and many powerful others that can change our business, relationships and spur success, typically start with the word “what”. What’s behind that?
“What’s with the ‘what’?”
Changing your asking habits is not easy. Questions that start with “why” are the ones that usually pop into our heads. They are shorter and often seem more to the point. In our world, we value brevity and directness. Time is valuable, so we like quick thinking and quick acting. But “why” questions are often leading, negatively charged or rhetorical, all of which negate the point of asking.
“Why did you do that?”
This is a common one for all of us. Often it means you did something wrong, and it may sound more like a statement than a question.
Consider a common scenario, such as a manager looking for feedback from an employee on something the employee wrote.
“Why did you write it like that?”
This question from a manager can make an employee worry about coming up with the “right” answer or feel they have to justify their work. But it’s possible the manager was just curious about the choice of words, and not intending to communicate an opinion or a judgment. A great alternative question might be: “What were you hoping the reader would take away from that wording?”
This gets to the underlying issue.
This question digs deeper to what the manager really wants, which is to determine the possible result of the work, not the emotional reasoning of the employee when they wrote it. It gets to the real issue faster and in a more supportive way, which in turn empowers the employee and further builds the relationship between manager and employee. Sounds like a useful concept to have in a business, doesn’t it?
You might even use a “what” question to follow up a question that you were asked:
“Should I go ahead and run the program?”
Instead of saying, “No, I don’t think you’re ready,” how about trying any of the following:
“What are some of the alternatives?” “What would be the outcome if you waited?” “What’s a possible benefit to doing it next week?”
And the answers you get back may actually give you feedback that you really hadn’t considered, taking things in a completely new direction. Improving the decision-making process, encouraging team work, and having better results would just be side effects.
Track your progress on asking ten “what” questions for the next three days to clients, co-workers, family members, etc., when your first instinct is to either give feedback or ask a “why” question. See how their reactions are different from the ones you have come to expect. And also note how the path forward unfolds from that interaction and what positives changes occur both immediately and long-term.
So, you now you have it -- ask more questions! Open-ended questions. Questions that start with “what.” And let’s hear what happens. Talk to you later!
Learn more about the author, Jason Rosado.
Comment on this article
No one has posted a comment yet. Be the first!
- decision making
- problem solving
- employee development