“Knowing the answers will help you in school. Knowing how to question will help you in life.”
How often do you say “Hello” to someone and they reply with “Good thanks” even though you haven’t actually asked them how they are? Yes, I’m as guilty as charged, we’ve all responded like this at some stage and this reflection is a great example that as life gets busier and more congested our brains are wired to think and be more than one step ahead of the conversation.
Did you know we speak at 125 words per minute but we think at 1200 words per minute! How often are you thinking of your opinion on what someone is telling you while at the same time subconsciously planning your next question?
When running communication workshops I always reinforce that we should only ask one question at a time. How often do you hear: “How was your weekend? Wasn’t the weather great? Did you go out for brunch? The recipient of these questions will only reply to the last question as you have simply loaded the questions with your intent and what you want to talk about, in this case being brunch.
Ask one question at a time, as soon as you visually picture a question mark, zip it and be present and listen. At this stage, we are thinking of what to ask next…. slow down and simply wait and listen to the response you get and shape your next question based on this. Frame your questions as open ones. This type of questioning elicits information, not a yes/no answer and gets the other person talking. This questioning technique is great if you are conversing with someone who is quite and who replies with one-word answers (great with teenagers). By framing your questions based on the other person response it shows you have listened (a rare skill these days) and also makes the other person feel important which in turn builds subliminal rapport. Listening skills along with being an effective communicator are two imperative skills you need to master as a leader.
Whether you are leading a team, conversing with clients or internal stakeholders building your questioning muscle is essential. By asking better quality and more powerful questions that are relevant you will find you will be speaking less and listening more and therefore empowering others. Less is more in this case. In a pure coaching sense we are only asking questions, deep, meaningful questions. There are a plethora of other questioning and communication techniques, start with asking more open questions, one at a time and base the next one on the recipients’ response. Let silence do the heavy lifting and watch what happens!
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Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished facilitator, speaker, trainer and coach who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations.
She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation and performance. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition, presenting and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results. Renée is currently working on her first book “Limitless Leadership”.
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