Asking the right questions

December 3rd, 2013

Returning to a topic we’ve discussed before [A to Z – questions] and will continue to do so, are you asking the right questions?

When people say their staff / managers don’t tell them what they need to know, I often ask them about their questions. In my experience, the “communication’s not good round here” syndrome in many organisations is at least as much to do with people not asking questions as it is with others not providing information. And, if you are going to ask questions, which are the right questions?

As an example, sitting at a seminar and the speaker finishes with “Any questions?” If, instead, they asked “What questions do you have?” – and more than once during the seminar – there’s a good chance they will get more questions.

In a similar vein, if you give work to a member of your staff and say “you will get it done by Friday then?”, how often do they say No, even when they know it is not possible. If you asked them, “when will you get it done by?” and “how long will you need?” you will get a better understanding of their view of the work. It may also need to be followed by “what else have you got to do by then?”

What questions could you ask in a different way?


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