- Alan is very frustrated about the project he is working on. He needs to complete the project development by end of the week and he has a road block. He reached out to Paul, his manager seeking for help. Alan started rattling about his problem, without coming to the point. Paul has only a few minutes to spend with Alan as he is already in the middle of putting off fires on an another crisis , trying to help another team member resolve a critical issue. What should Paul do?
- Tina, a newly joined employee was invited to the office lunch outing by her team mates, the ritual they follow twice every year. She is freaking out from the moment she got the invite. She cannot refuse to go to lunch, she wants to be a good team player but she is worried about socialization. She doesn’t know what to talk and is freaking out .
- Bob’s project is dependent on John’s project and John just informed Bob that he will be delayed as they are trying to redesign their project because of an inherent bug they discovered. Bob is concerned of possibly missing a deadline as this is a critical project that they cannot miss.
Do any of these situations resonate with you? Do you struggle to keep the conversation moving? Do you dread team outings, large meetings with clients or family gathering? Do you always worry about what to talk in social gathering? Have you ever been into a situation where you see no options and struggle to move ahead? You probably can think of several other scenarios that are similar. I surely can.
Most of us do not recognize and leverage the the power of questions. In this post, I want to highlight some of the ways we can leverage the power of questions to achieve meaningful conversation , extract relevant information, encourage creative thinking and much more.
As a leader to be effective , you need to bridge the communication and information gaps that your team may have and give them the push they need to get going.
As a prospective leader, you need to know how you can be effective as you work with your team and as you take up more and more responsibilities.
What would you do if you were in place of Paul , Tina or Bob in the above scenario ?
- Paul is short of time, but he has to help Alan as his boss. He needs to tactically come to the core of the problem – he should ask the right questions to extract the relevant information from Alan so he can address the problem and possibly find a resolution – fast. Creative Paul may also figure out that the issue that Alan thinks is an issue might not be an issue after all.
- Tina needs a way to overcome her anxiety of social situations and calm down, She can overcome her fear by switching the spotlight on to others and direct the conversations to others. She can be curious to get to know other team members by asking the right questions and showing interest in what they do.
- Bob has to take a step back and look for a fresh perspective. He needs to ask John the right questions to come up with an alternative. Bob needs to be creative and help John get creative to solve this problem strategically.
Listen to this podcast where Michael Hyatt tells you how you can lead transnational conversations.
Here are the benefits of asking questions.
- You make the other person feel important by asking them to talk about something they like.
- You can direct a conversation and get the information you need by asking the right questions.
- You can probe creativity
- You can solve problems and get to solutions
- You can bring in a fresh perspective
- Showcases your leadership – when you ask questions related to scenarios that others didn’t think of.
- Highlights your analytical skills, and critical thinking/thinking ahead.
- Develop others – ask questions that help others to come up with solutions and get to action items.
How to pick the right question to ask ?
How do you know where to start? What is the right question to start with? You should not only ask questions, you should ask meaningful and relevant questions. Follow these tips to help you in such situations.
- Repeat what the other person is saying and ask if you have understood what they are saying – this gives clarity and also perspective.
- Think out of the box, looks for creative ways. Ask yourself what you can do that others have not thought of yet. This helps creative problem solving.
- Looks for gaps in the process or the system – often times when you address the missing pieces, most problems are solved.
- Follow up on the conversation – ask questions to get more information/details on the current topic at hand.
- Encourage others to share their ideas, opinions – you will be surprised to see the various perspectives.