2011-09-20

The art of the question

David Huggins

What single action has the greatest impact, either positive or negative, on productivity?

This is not a trick question; it’s a great question, because it invited you to think! 

Consider for a moment, you had the art of using questions really ‘taped’ when you were a toddler. Your questions taught you everything you needed and wanted to know in a strange and often threatening world. 

You could get peoples attention, have them focus on you, respond to your needs and perhaps satisfy your desires. This made you more competent and confident; in the process, many of them felt fulfilled in their role as parent or older sibling. Then it all changed! They decided to limit your use of this powerful communication tool because it wasn’t always comfortable. Your teachers discovered that it was frequently more convenient to have you accept their ideas without questions since this took less time and effort on their part. In a short while, you lost the desire and the skill to use questions to manage your world. 

Take heart – it’s easily regained. Here are three pointers that will have you moving in the right direction once more, and you’ll be amazed at how this will change your fortunes and your relationships.

 

Firstly, a great question is any question that invites a mind to open and to share – this is engagement! 

Secondly, effective questions have two components – they have a clear purpose and they build on relationships. In short, the outcome has been properly considered and the residue / legacy is positive. 

Thirdly, questions that work are both closed (direct) and open (expansive). A direct question is a good way to attract attention and to initiate or close a conversation. Open or expansive questions are an excellent way to encourage value added content in between. Here’s a typical process for a question-based conversation: 

  • Can we talk about this? (closed - makes for a safe conversation)
  • How does this situation look to you? (opening - invites contribution in a non-threatening way)
  • How could this be handled in the most effective way? (open - asks for original input)
  • What do you see as the consequences? (opening – defines action and transfers responsibility)
  • When will we see results? (closed – confirms intended action)

 

Was that painful? Could you do this? In what ways would it benefit you? Could I assist you?

 

When will you start?

 


 MASc, FIoD, CMS is an experienced behavioral scientist and executive coach who’s dedicated to bringing out the best in individuals and groups. His insights and direct contributions have taken business leaders to elevated dimensions in performance. He can be reached through his websites at www.andros.org and www.polarisprogram.com © 2011 Andros Consultants Limited. All rights reserved.

2017-12-05

Why Teams Fail: A Higher Altitude View

Don Schmincke

Many well-intended team-building programs frustrate HR executives when they fall short of their promises. But why do some teams perform while others flounder even with the same training methods?

Read more

2013-06-18

How do you build (or rebuild) trust at work?

Drake Editorial Team

How easy would it be to sort out difficulties at work if you didn't trust your colleagues to respond well? How motivating would it be if once you raised a concern with your manager, nothing was done about it?

Read More

2013-08-21

Trust: a personal value essential to organizationa...

Drake Editorial Team

Why spend time developing and nurturing trusting relationships in the workplace? Put simply, trust in the workplace is critical to organizational success...

Read More

2013-12-31

Twelve requirements for building effective teams

Drake Editorial Team

In the uncertainties in today's global marketplace, talk in the workplace centres around the many nuances of becoming a team, the differences between teams and groups, what it takes to work as a team...

Read More

10/22/2021

Building resiliency at work

Drake International

Even those of us who are happy at work will say there are still stressors nonetheless – constant change, too few staff, and strained workplace relationships to name just a few. And then there are the challenges in our personal life as well!

Read more

08/27/2021

Are you Wasting your Employee Resources? Here are ...

Drake International

Employee talent and efficiency determines the pace and growth of an organisation. Whether you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of staff, they are critical resources that must be carefully hired and managed for optimum productivity. The truth is, if you don’t know how many resources you have, and if you don’t know how to utilise them, it will never be enough.

Read more