John Maxwell has just released a new book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. I love this title and I am anxiously waiting for my copy to come in the mail. This title resonates with me so much because I LOVE asking questions. In fact, a big part of what make me so effective as a trusted adviser is not that I give awesome advice (which I do), it’s that I ask questions that demonstrate my understanding of what is going on with my clients and help them discover their own internal wisdom and truths.
Questions allow you to connect with yourself and others on deeper levels. They enable you to build rapport and demonstrate empathy and compassion. Through the use of great questions, you can explore possibilities and free up stagnant energy quickly and easily. They are a powerful, yet under-utilized, relationship building tool.
When you are asking questions, you show the other person that you are actually present in the conversation and are truly interested in learning more about and connecting with them. A well placed question can illuminate unrecognized internal conflicts and unconscious belief systems that are sabotaging the person (or you) from doing, being or having what they (or you) desire.
The funny thing about questions, though, is that too many people are afraid that asking them will make them look stupid. I love John Maxwell’s thoughts on that fear. “It’s better to look uninformed from asking questions than to actually be uninformed from not asking questions”. Amen!! I think questions are the mark of a quick mind that seeks to understand, and when people feel understood, they are much more willing to trust and commit to you.
Let me repeat that last statement again. Questions are the mark of a quick mind that seeks to understand, and when people feel understood, they are much more willing to trust and commit to you. Do you see how the truth of this statement can make a positive impact on every relationship in your life and in your business?
Here are three of my tips on how to ask effective questions:
1. Be Curious. Genuine curiosity is what drives scientists and children to new discoveries and life changing inventions. Set aside your skepticism and your “I already know the answer” mentality and tap into your child-like desire to understand why someone (or yourself) is doing, saying, thinking, and feeling the way they are, and what deeper thing may really be going on. Keep asking questions until you and the other person have clarity.
2. Be Compassionate. Ask and listen without judgment. Have empathy for another’s process and point of view. Be gentle with others (and yourself) as new information and insights emerge. Resist the urge to rescue, answer, advise and fix things. Less is more. As Victor Frankel says “Empathy is the space between the words we have the courage to leave.”
3. Be Conscious. Questions have the ability to direct conversation. Listen to where your inner guidance is leading you, in terms of what questions to ask to bring out the highest good for all concerned. To do this, you must stay present in the conversation and connection with the other person. Being grounded and centered allows you to be present and come from your heart.
The quality of questions are important, but what really matters most is the consciousness you bring to the questions you are asking. Try these tips and let me know how it goes in the comment section below.