Today, many leaders and bosses fear asking questions because they believe people are easily offended, view comments as microaggressions, or feel uncomfortable being put on the spot. But asking the right questions the right way and getting people thinking and talking is how you generate new ideas, resolve problems, and manage conflicts.
How to Ask the Right Questions to Improve Results
Understand Your Approach Matters. While many people fear direct questions or straight talk, they can elicit great responses. But in some cases, candid questions may be too difficult for people. Choose appropriately.
- Direct approach: “Good morning! What’s the progress on xxx?”
- Softer approach. “Hi. Great to see you. I have a question to ask you. Is now a good time?”
Actively Listen to Learn. As many people know, we listen to respond and fail to hear what the other person has said. Actively listen. Then, ask questions to learn more before responding. But, remember, this is not an interrogation!
Use Silence! Ask your question. Then, become silent. Allow them time to answer and avoid jumping in to answer for them. Remember, you’ve been thinking about your idea. It’s probably the first time they’ve heard it!
Give Feedback by Asking Questions First. Get their side of the story or point of view on an issue before providing feedback. Sharing back and forth helps both of you listen. Then, ask, “What do you believe we should do to move forward?” This process will improve your decision-making and team results.
Use a Neutral Tone of Voice. Being overly excited or hyper as the norm makes it difficult for calmer team members to feel comfortable responding. Use a neutral tone to avoid escalating a conversation into a conflict because the more hyper you become, the calmer your team members will become – neither of you will feel heard. If you are unaware of your tone of voice or the impact you have, contact me.
Have The Other Person Go First. Ask a question to get the conversation started. Instead of asking, “How’s your day going?” (It will only elicit yawns or complaints.) Ask, “What did/do you love about this project? What do you see as the next step?”
Be Responsible When Asking ‘Leading Questions.’ “You got that task done, right?” It is a question that implies a right or wrong answer. Instead, “How’s the progress on resolving the customer issue?” Listen. Offer, “Let me know how I can assist in getting it resolved faster.” This is a critical skill to learn because it reduces potential conflict.
Encourage Discussion by Asking Open-Ended Questions. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How are the start of asking open-ended questions. Why is this important? We’re not wired to ask open-ended questions, and not doing so limits results. Use open-ended questions and have at least three questions ready to get your team talking. This method works well during brainstorming or generating new ideas when the team is stuck.
©Jeannette Seibly 2024 All Rights Reserved
Jeannette Seibly is a Talent Advisor/Leadership Results Coach with over 31 years of experience guiding leaders and bosses to improve their hiring, coaching, and managing practices and produce amazing results! And yes, achieving business success always starts with having the right people in the right jobs! She has been an Authorized PXT Select Partner for over 31 years. Contact Jeannette to learn more about this state-of-the-art job-fit assessment tool or how to coach and manage your people to achieve extraordinary results.
A note from Jeannette: Asking questions seems mundane until you consider how you use this critical management skill. Asking the right questions in the right way can elicit better responses from team members, generate new ideas, and manage conflicts. Want to tap into my 31++ years of experience in developing influential leaders and bosses? Contact me now with your questions!
It’s time to unleash your inner leader! Are there days you dread managing people, projects, and your team’s financial performance? You’re not alone! Everyone has their blind spots! NOW is the time to get the guidance you need to make the right changes for 2024. I have extensive experience and wisdom guiding bosses and leaders to hire, coach, and manage their teams successfully. The bonus is that they achieve unprecedented results. Contact me to learn more about my in-depth, one-on-one, customized coaching programs.