Are you trying to become a better listener? One essential skill for better listening is learning the art of asking great questions. When you are in a conversation and you ask questions, it helps you stay in a listening posture and keeps bouncing the conversation ball back into the other person’s court.
Questions are a great asset in any conversation. I’m not talking about questions that interrogate, humiliate, manipulate, show mistrust or are just random. I’m referring to questions that are thoughtful, thought-provoking and encourage continued dialogue. Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl have written a great book, TransforMissional Coaching, with a whole chapter on asking great questions. Let me share some gleanings that have helped me in this area of conversation.
Ways great questions enhance a conversation:
Show Value — When you are asking questions that relate to the person you are speaking with, it reminds that person the conversation is about him or her, not about you.
Engage and Involve — Thoughtful questioning keeps your conversation partner as an active participant and not a passive receiver.
Focused Dialogue – Questions keep you dedicated to explore the environment of the other person and a specific topic rather than diverting the conversation to random chatter.
Encourages Thinking – John Whitmore said, “Telling saves people form having to think. Asking questions causes them to think for themselves.” Good questions release the other person’s best reflections and insight.
Increases Listening – When you ask questions of another, you then have to quit talking to listen to their response. Our two ears work so much better when our mouth is inviting responses rather than imparting information.
Invites Disclosure – Questions open the door to data which often leads to another question that uncovers more information that leads to still more questions. More information and disclosure usually leads to a deeper relationship and to better problem solving.
Helps with Self-Discovery – Great questions can intentionally guide a conversation to creating self-awareness. Rather than telling someone what they “need to see” about themselves or their circumstance, a poignant “aha” moment is always a much greater and effective change agent.
Remember, questions can be used, misused and abused in a relationship. They can be used to help or harm another person. Great questions are both intentional and powerful bridges to better relationships.
QUESTION: What additional thoughts do you have? Share them in the Comment section.
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