Have you ever notice that some people don’t like to ask questions?
It’s understandable when those questions are personal. You don’t want to offend anyone. However, most people will give answers to questions asked of them.
So why are we so afraid to ask?
When you ask questions, you have the necessary tools to become a better listener. It’s indirect and subtle, but most of all, it works. And, when you ask a question, you listen for the answer. You aren’t spending your energy trying to think of what to say after the other person has finished speaking.
Before you fire up your “question engine”, please keep a few tips in mind:
Make sure your questions are relevant to the current conversation. If you are all over the place on your topics, you will appear unorganized and unprofessional. Also, keep your questions relevant to the topic of discussion. You can transition into other topics, but try to keep them related.
Be Authentic. Don’t ask questions in an attempt to trick someone into an answer or to try to impress them with your intelligence. The idea is to connect with people by listening to their stories. A better approach is to ask questions that you know they will be able to answer. Sometimes, you may already know the answer. But the key is in the process and the answers.
Focus on the Other Person. It’s okay to ask questions that somehow relate to you, but try to keep the focus on the other person. People love to talk about themselves. When they find people who are good listeners, they will open up to you.
Good questions can also steer the conversation. This can be an asset when you converse with someone who is overly chatty. If they are going on and on about a topic, use questions to reel them in. It’s a focused approach that gives you control while moving the conversation forward.
If you don’t typically ask questions, it may take some practice to learn what to ask. The good news is that you will have plenty of opportunities to practice in your daily interactions with people. For example, if you commute via public transportation, try to strike up a conversation with someone next to you. This isn’t as easy as it used to be with people absorbed with their smart devices.
But, if you try, you may pleasantly find that many people are responsive.