Asking the Right Question


Asking the Right Question

We’re asked our opinion all the time. And when we answer, all that really happens is that the questioner simply knows more about us – they know our point of view. We reveal something about ourselves every time someone asks us to phone in our idea about something. We are almost always disappointed if they don’t take it as advice. The thing is that most people only take the advice of someone who is already on the side they are considering. The best thing to do to keep your own point of view more private is to ask the right question.

If you ask, “Did you ever think of writing an email to your vendor?” you’ve also voiced your opinion. You’ve said, “I think you should write to your vendor.” However, if you say, “What do YOU think is the best thing you could do?” you’ve put the responsibility back in their court providing them the opportunity to figure it out for themselves. Just because you’ve asked the question, you might even get credit for helping. And your ideas are still yours, quietly in private without influence.

There is an art to open-ended questioning. If a question gives a suggestion or the idea of another way, it isn’t really a question. It’s an answer – a cagy way to give advice. But the true open-ended questions can make someone a loyal friend or colleague for life because you put the powers of choice back in their own yard.

How do you think you might change your questions?

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