• Viki Johnston

How do you ask a question?



Seems like a silly question, but when it comes to asking questions (and yes there really is no such thing as a silly question) there’s a skill in being able to ask the most appropriate question in order to get the best results from the answer.

I volunteer at an organisation (WHW) which supports under and unemployed people get back into the workplace and build successful careers. Whilst discussing aspects around “Becoming the Best New Employee” we talk about everything from preparing for the first day to growing a successful career within a new organisation. A critical part of that transition is to learn how to ask great questions instead of either waiting to be told or going it alone with your own preconceptions of how things should be done.

Identifying opportunities to ask open and probing questions, (5 bums on a rugby post and TED) and then using them to gather information puts the new recruit in a much better position to succeed in their new role.

Instead of asking, “Do you want me to do this piece of work?”, ask “How would you like me to complete this piece of work?” Rather than “Is this a priority?” Ask “What is the priority for this?”

By opening up the dialogue you are likely to gain more than a straight yes or no answer, you can learn more and engage with your new Boss and Team Members. Open questions give the impression you are interested in finding out more, not just a quick positive or negative response. Asking for an explanation for a task or decision will give you a deeper insight into how your colleague thinks and operates. This in turn leads to better collaboration and trust. You will understand the whys and wherefores, creating empathy and understanding.

Being curious is a great way to prevent judgmental behaviour and shallowing thinking. Applying a growth mindset and actively going out of your way to increase your knowledge will facilitate a greater appreciation for how other people think and why they behave in certain ways.

Questioning skills are more than just being nosy, they are essential to your personal and career growth. Something not often taught in schools even though it’s a life skill.

Next time you ask a question try to start it with;



How, What, When, Where, Who, Why

Or TED;

Tell me

Explain

Describe

...and give the person you’re talking to the best opportunity to explain and share information. The next challenge is being able to listen to the answer. That another essential life skill to develop.

Would you like to learn more about asking great questions, to develop your career or team performance, just ask... Viki@exelorate.com.

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