…..’question’ art…

The wisest person doesn’t give the right answers, they pose the right questions…..

Levi Strauss

You are in the middle of a meeting; could be a problem-solving huddle, adventures in providing status, or a management fact-finding.  There are elephants roaming free in the meeting space; no one has asked for input or feedback but there is no shortage of tsunami strong opinions. You have a plethora of details on the subject but you are blocked by the grazing elephants.

A tool as old as time is at your disposal; asking a well-constructed question is your best defense. Questions have the power to defuse negative energy, redirect, and offer the catalyst to gain expertise and topic knowledge. Speak up with robust tact and raise your hand if that will work.

Open-ended questions generate critical thought, creativity, innovation, and subject redirection. What and how questions are less invasive and are a kinder, respectful way to get answers.  Example: ‘what facts do we know about the progress of the  product?’  To gain the information and a deeper level of detail, ask a follow on question that creates a need for critical subject thought. Example: What details have the potential to derail a release this year? These questions have the power to channel dialogue, realign chaos.

Closed-ended questions are the best tool for delivering facts, expertise and for fostering consensus building. Example: ‘Does a release on a new product make sense at this time of year?’ With mixed yes or no responses, ask a follow on question to move towards a buy-in direction. Example: Is it better to release a new product in June for appealing to a summer clientele use, or October in anticipation for the holiday season?

Planning questions is the most efficient use of a very simple tool. Anyone can draft questions in a notebook or a laptop note app. Taking a few minutes to create questions in advance of a potentially difficult situation can alleviate public speaking jitters too. Document and modify your questions after the meeting;  you will be able to pick up where you left off without revisiting any issues that have moved forward.

Another step to working happier….

One thought on “…..’question’ art…

  1. Bill says:

    Great reminder Amy. Instead of a defensive response, ask a clarifying question (What did you mean when you said…?). Instead of an angry retort, ask a process question (What should our next step be then?). Instead of a personalized rebuttal, ask a motivational question (What do you think is driving this change?)

    If only it were that easy. Too often we respond with our emotions and not with our cognition. Maybe we take too much personally, when it is not necessarily intended that way.

    Good idea to keep our heads in the game, and respond intelligently instead of emotionally.

    Way to go!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s