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Episode 20: Back Pocket Questions to Save the Day

communication podcast May 10, 2022

If you ask profound questions … you’ll get profound answers. If you ask shallow questions … you’ll get shallow answers. If you ask no questions … you’ll get no answers at all. 

~Bobb Biehl Master Planning Group International

 Asking great questions is a #1 leadership skill to practice over and over and over. 

  • Good Questions will save you from making mistakes. 
  • Good Questions will save you from offering advice when people aren’t ready.
  • Good Questions will save the conversation when you discover hurt feelings, offenses created or resistance to your leadership direction. 

The secret to these kinds of conversations is pacing … to slow down. As leaders we are often driving to the conclusion of a conversation – getting to a decision, establishing agreement, planning a next step, collecting the information to take the next step…

While not every question needs to be profound, pacing conversations and slowing down with deeper more thoughtful questions when you notice some of those non-verbals: facial expressions, squirming in the seat, looking away or looking down, wringing hands, stunted responses like “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” is your secret to great leadership. 

If you’ve got a challenge, I have three options based on our quote today. 

A: I can just let you talk, because you’re not looking for answers and questions aren’t what you need right now. You haven’t found your answers and if you follow my advice, what you do will likely be unsustainable for you and your success will drop significantly. 

B: I can ask: “What do you want to do about that?” This narrower question timed right can still be a good question. Timed wrong and I might hear – “I don’t know” “I’m not sure” and those shallow answers are unhelpful. 

C: I can ask more profound and expanding questions like: “What makes this difficult for you?” or “What is circling in our mind because of this situation?” or “What’s the message that you're telling yourself about this?” These kinds of questions tell you that I think you’re capable and I care about you

The better you get at it, the better your conversations will be.

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