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Questions are more important than you think

admin March 21, 2023

The way a leader questions the team will show whether he can promote the human values ​​​​under him. Even the right questions can help reduce business risk.

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Leaders may not realize it, but a huge part of a leader's workday is spent asking questions, e.g asking team leaders for an update or asking a partner a question in a tense negotiation…

For some people, their inquisitive nature, emotional intelligence, and ability to read people make them instinctive to ask questions, and to do so with relative ease. But most of us don't ask enough, and ask optimally. Because unlike professions like lawyers, journalists, and doctors (which are trained to ask questions as an essential part of their job), very few managers are trained and invest time honing their skills.  questioning ability.

For some reason, leaders don't ask enough questions. Some leaders indulge in training, guidance, and self-expression by revealing their thoughts, stories, and ideas right away to others. They don't even care enough to ask, or assume that the answers will bore them. Others are overconfident in their knowledge, thinking they already have the answers.  Or worry that the question is too shallow, too rude. It all comes down to people not knowing how to ask good questions.

1. The question is the beginning of the connection

First of all, you have to find the motivation to ask the question, the goal of the dialogue. The purpose of the conversation is: to exchange information and create connections, to attract the other person in the way you want. From there, you can cooperate (build a partnership or complete a task together) or compete (discover important information from each other for your own benefit), or a combination of the two.

Asking questions is therefore a powerful, unique tool for unlocking values: encouraging learning and the exchange of ideas, fostering innovation and improving efficiency, building relationships and trust  ideas among members. Furthermore, this skill also helps leaders spot unforeseen pitfalls and dangers, minimizing business risks. Asking questions also helps subordinates see the attention and concern of the leader about their views and opinions.

Questions are more important than you think

2. Questions that make a good impression

Asking lots of questions unlocks learning and improves interpersonal relationships, creating opportunities for personal and organizational growth. The only way to become a good questioner is to practice asking more questions. Of course, asking a lot is not enough, but how you choose the question type, tone, sequence, and response is also important. Applying questioning techniques adopted from behavioral science research can help you get the most out of your conversations.

In between questions, you have to listen enough and give personal feedback, which helps you have a meaningful conversation, instead of interrogation. After a productive conversation, people may remember some of the questions posed by the other person, but most don't notice that they were engaged in answering them spontaneously, or that the questions led to the conversation how they lead to each other, as well as how it can affect their feelings towards each other.

3. The question of optimizing the amount of information received

Follow-up questions: Questions asked after receiving an answer to continue the flow of information, or to respond to your point of view, to show the other party that you are listening, interested and want to know more. These are very important questions that make the other person feel respected and heard. Precisely because they are based on data from previous responses, they are also easier for the questioner to come up with, and more natural for the respondent. You just need to get the necessary attention into the conversation.

Open-ended questions: No one likes questions that are interrogative or have only a “Yes” or “No” choice. Open-ended questions will feel more comfortable, and open up new directions of information that you may not have thought of. For example: “What would you do if you were in that situation?”.

But on the other hand, if you're in an intense negotiation or you don't have a choice for the other person, open-ended questions give them the opportunity to evade or lie to ignore your request. Especially if you need a precise answer to a worrying situation, then a closed-ended question with a pessimistic presumption will make the respondent speak more accurately about the actual situation. For example: “Is the equipment having some problems?” instead of “Is the equipment still in good condition?”.

4. The order of asking questions makes information richer

Asking questions also requires tactics. Good leaders are those who naturally ask good questions.

One of the tips to keep people from feeling defensive is to distract from the task. For example, ask questions to survey the device's condition to find out if the device management process is scientific and safe. But you should not apply too many times, causing the surveyor to doubt your motives.

With serious topics, setting a difficult question at the beginning, then gradually reducing the difficulty level will help respondents to gradually open up because of the feeling of less stress. On the contrary, if it is to build a strong relationship, the questions should go from subtle to profound and personal.

The dialogue environment is also very important. If asked in a fun conversation, a game of connection, respondents will also feel more relaxed to express.

Individual creativity or organizational innovation are both based on the ability to find new information from existing data. Therefore, do not stop questioning any department or individual, for any job. Thoughtful questions and answers foster productive interactions, strengthen relationships and trust, and lead both leaders and teams to big-picture information. It is also something that only when faced with a difficult situation, you will realize its effectiveness after a long time of practice.

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