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why is it good to ask questions

Posted by: Do you know that I ask a lot of questions?
And theres nothing wrong with that, since Im a salesperson in all ways, and this is still true: Telling aint selling! The essence of effective selling, of course, is asking. And I dont mean asking for the orderthough thats criticalI mean asking questions. But this blog is not about selling. It s about why we ask questions, no matter our role. But first, a story: In 1989, as a 31-year-old sales guy offering management training in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I invited a Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper SVP to my office to explore his teams training needs. As this fiftysomething, gray-haired exec stood at my flip chart diagraming his organizational structure so I could probe for needI probed I dont remember my question, but Ill never forget his swift and intense reaction to a question I posed. He turned from the flip chart with great speed and swung his right arm toward me in dramatic fashion, pointed directly at my face, and exclaimed, Now that is an outstanding question! Though I was seated at a conference table and only 5 6I felt ten feet tall! My stature had risen in his eyes not because of something I had told him, but because of something I had asked him. Yes, the question I asked that day helped me move the selling process forward, but let me be clear: The power and value of a good question has nothing to do with being a professional salesperson. Asking questions is a skill required by people in all roles, job functions, and professions. Why exactly do we ask questions? Well, here are 15 reasons to do so! 1. To acquire knowledge 2. To eliminate confusion 3. To cause someone else to feel special/important 4. To guide a conversation in the direction we want it to go 5. To demonstrate humility to another 6. To enable a person to discover answers for themselves 7. To gain empathy through better understanding anothers view 8.

To influence/alter someone elses opinion/view 9. To begin a relationship 10. To strengthen a relationship 11. To humbly show we have knowledge on a specific topic 12. To stimulate creativity and idea generation 13. To gain a persons attention 14. To solve a problem 15. To reach agreement or to agree to disagree with clarity So, there they are 15 reasons to ask questions. But wait! To understand why we DO ask questions, its good to explore the reasons why we DO NOT ask questions. Here are six: 1. To find a culprit 2. To embarrass and shame 3. To appear superior 4. To create fear 5. To manipulate 6. To play the victim, as in, Why is this happening to me? So, let s discuss: Which one (or ones) on our list of 15 surprise you? Are there some on that list you want to accomplish more often? Share! Can you add one or two to our 15? NOTE: No adding stuff like, enhances communication, builds teamwork, or to coach. When we accomplish many of the 15 on our list, those goals will be achieved. Lastly, can you add to the list of 6 reasons we DO NOT ask questions? Okay, comment away! Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. Are you being judged by your questions? Not moving forward in your career, business, marriage, or fill in the blank _______? It could be because you are not asking the right questions. You need to be good at. You might not be getting the feedback you need to make corrections in your behavior. You might not be getting type of answers that you need to hear. You also might just be getting downright wrong information. What Do You Want? When you ask a question, you have to know what you want for an answer. I spent quite a few years in the military. We had intelligence reports coming in; we needed data, not someones opinion. That meant we wanted strictly the information. We did not want any interpretation. Just the facts, maam.

When you are asking questions, make sure you put it in the right context. Other times you might want someones opinion. For example, What do you think of this cologne? Sometimes you want a reasoned opinion or advice. What is the route to get from uptown to downtown? As you get ready to ask your question, make sure you have the right source and they know what you want from them. Do I need a factually correct answer? Do I need an? Do I need a well-reasoned judgment? Once you know what kind of information you need and who to ask, you have to ask your questions in a manner that gets the best possible information in response. Asking amazing great questions is skill like any other skill, it takes practice. Here are some techniques to draw out what you need to know. 1. Dont Ask Yes or No Questions When you ask a yes or no question, you will most often get incomplete information. Instead, ask an open-ended question. By using an open-ended question you get insights and additional information you might not have known existed. Questions with would, should, is, are, and do you think all lead to yes or no. Questions with who, what, where, when, how, or why lead to people giving some thought to their answers and provide much more information. 2. Dig Deeper Always consider using follow-up questions. Unless you are looking strictly for the facts, there is some sort of assumption in the answer the person gives you. Ask them a follow up question such as, What makes you say that? or Why do you think that? Lets say that you are talking to a co-worker and need to know details of a project. Your co-worker tells you that one of the suppliers has been very difficult to work on the project. You will want to follow up on that comment. A question such as What do you mean he is difficult to work with? will lead you to the real facts.

It may not be because the supplier is particularly difficult to work with but rather is not reachable for quick communications or any number of outside reasons. Follow up questions give you insight and let you make your own opinions about things. 3. Use the Power of Silence Start getting comfortable with asking a question, waiting for response, listening to the response and then waiting some more. Many times the person you are questioning has more information and will bring it out when you wait for it. You have to be comfortable with that silent period before the dam breaks. Police and military interrogators use silence very effectively. People feel a need to fill the holes in the conversation and often they will then bring out the critical bit of information you seek. 4. Dont Interrupt Dont interrupt the person with whom you are talking. First, it tells the person you dont value what they are saying. Interrupting stops their train of thought and directs the conversation the way you want, not necessarily the way it should go. Ask your question, then let the person answer it in full, even when you think you are not getting the answer you want. and use that to direct them back to the topic in the next question when there is a natural pause. If time is of the essence and the person has long strayed from the topic, then of course you need to interrupt. Be as polite as possible when doing it. This shows the person that you do respect what they are saying. Say something like, Excuse me, I want to make sure I understand you. What I heard you say is and then bring them back on point to the matter at hand. As you go forth in your quest for knowledge, remember that asking great questions takes practice. This implies that you probably wont get it perfect every each outing. Just get started asking questions. Your skills will improve over time. Remember that if you want good answers, they come from asking good questions.

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