Your Success Hinges on Your Questions
Regardless of what you do, asking great questions is a skill you want to have!
When you don’t ask questions, assumptions are made and misunderstandings happen.
Humans want to be known and understood, and asking thoughtful questions is a way to demonstrate your interest in others.
Ever met someone who goes on and on about themselves, without an ounce of interest in you? When you leave the conversation, you feel weary! Ignored.
It’s a beautiful thing when you meet someone and they genuinely take in interest in you!
If you want to enhance your relationships and set yourself apart in the workplace, or in whatever it is you do, consider getting more curious!
People are fascinating! God has created each person with a personality and thinking preference unique to them. Not only are you a one-of-a-kind creature, so are the people you meet. Yet, you probably unintentionally treat others in ways that works for you, rather than asking questions that would unlock the mystery of who they are and discovering what works for them.
Remember, what you value is not necessarily what others value. Your priorities are probably not the same and your motivations are likely different. Everyone’s journey is exclusively theirs with different experiences, preferences, and desires that all add up to a person’s special story.
Getting to know someone new is like unwrapping a gift – you just never know how their life will impact and change yours. Sometimes it isn’t even getting to know someone new, but taking the time to go deeper with someone you already know and discovering a side of them that you never knew existed.
Think about it…your children are gifts. The people on your team are gifts. That potential client is a gift. The person serving you lunch is a gift. It goes on and on!
A Sad Phenomenon
As I navigate work and life, I have the opportunity to connect with numerous people in the course of a week, and I’ve noticed a sad phenomenon. A healthy give and take in a conversation is rare! You see, the best conversations consist of three key factors…
- Both parties asking questions out of genuine curiosity.
- Active listening.
- Neither party dominating the conversation.
Like a tennis match, the best conversations consist of a good bit of back and forth, minus the trying to score! Questions play a big part in that.
Food For Thought
Imagine walking into a new social setting and someone walks up to you and starts prattling on about crypto currency or the Braves – something you have zero interest in. They miss the yawn, the darting eyes, and the glance at your watch. Before you have the chance to utter a word they have moved on to the next victim.
How does that sort of conversation leave you feeling?
What gives sales people a bad rap? It’s not just the hard sell, it’s also the telling – going on and on about their product or service and providing and excess of information that you care nothing about!
Years ago, my husband and I went in search of my next car. One salesman we encountered on that adventure proceeded to go on and on about all the technical aspects of the car we were sitting in, all of which I cared very little about. Never once did he ask what was important to me in a car. Instead, he informed, informed, and informed some more. When we left the car lot, he still had no idea what I was looking for or what would have enabled him to sell a car that day. Needless to say, he did not make the sale!
Beware! Car sales people are NOT the only ones who make this mistake when approaching a customer! Your first job is to ask questions to help you determine what’s important to them and what they need.
When leaders take the time to really get to know their people it makes a difference! Not only does it cultivate trust, but it also increases the level of engagement. How would knowing that your boss understood your goals, desires, and challenges change how you approached your work?
Have you experienced it? People going on and on about themselves and yet having seemingly zero curiosity in you?
When you make a conversation all about you, there are some pretty sweet perks that you miss out on!
Did you know that when people talk about themselves they feel good? It’s true! You actually get a bit of a buzz when you talk about yourself! That’s compelling for sure!
That’s why it’s so important for you to engage the people you talk to. You want them to walk away from your conversation feeling good!
Have you considered how people feel after a conversation with you?
Showing Genuine Interest
Drawing out those that you come in contact doesn’t just happen. It’s something worth thinking about beforehand. Having a few “go to” questions in mind makes having meaningful conversations easier. Here are a few possibilities…
- What’s your morning/evening routine like?
- What are you passionate about?
- What’s your favorite holiday?
- What do you do for stress relief?
- What’s your favorite board game?
- What’s your favorite way to waste time?
- What’s the last book you read?
- What was the last concert you went to?
- What are you most looking forward to in the next month?
- What did you do on your last vacation?
- What three words best describe you?
- What in your life brings you the most joy?
- Where and when do you get your best ideas?
- What kinds of things do you tend to procrastinate on?
- What do you like best about spring, summer, fall, or winter?
I’ve Got More!
16. What’s your definition of success?
17. What’s your splurge food?
18. If you could call anyone in the world and have a one-hour chat, who would you call?
19. What was your favorite subject in school?
20. How do you like to unwind?
21. What do you like to do for fun?
22. Who has had the most influence on your life?
23. What are you most excited about right now?
24. How do you express yourself creatively?
25, What made you laugh in the last week?
26. What’s one thing you wouldn’t want to live without?
27. What languages do you speak?
28. What do you like to cook?
29. Where did you grow up?
30. What’s one thing people would assume that you’ve done, but you actually haven’t?
Pick a question and try it out for a week. Then try another questions until you have an arsenal of questions at your disposal.
The Best Questions For YOU?
What questions would serve you best as a leader? A salesperson? A parent?
A few tips to keep in mind as you seek to engage others in meaningful conversation:
- Be genuinely interested in the other person. Insincerity is hard to hide!
- Set your agenda aside and make connecting a priority!
- Be yourself!
- Be fully present and curious so that your follow up questions are relevant. That means limiting distractions, like your phone!
- Hold tight to the things you have in common – let go of your differences.
- Take care to not interrupt.
- When you don’t see eye to eye on a topic – consider carefully if disagreeing or contradicting them is worth it. What questions can you ask to better understand their point of view?
- Whenever possible refrain from asking “why?” which has a way of putting people in the position of having to defend.
- Focus on the positives.
- Be respectful. It’s not your job to judge or criticize. Just learn!
- Make sure you aren’t dominating the conversation.
God created us for relationship – to be in community. We naturally want to connect. Knowing someone is truly interested in you goes a long way towards cultivating a meaningful conversation which then leads to better relationships both personally and professionally!
Take a powerful interest in others – it’s a rare gift these days!
How might asking great questions benefit you personally and professionally?