For those of us who earn our living as “independent professionals,” we survive on our ability to help, inspire, educate, or entertain others. People come to us for information or advice.
Can we help more by asking questions instead of making statements? I think very often the answer is yes.
What if, instead of suggesting that a client try something a certain way, we asked instead: “What might happen if you tried it this way? What might it look like? What could be the result?
I believe we get twice the use out of a question as we do from a suggestion:
1. Your suggestion is heard less defensively as a curiosity question instead of a suggestion. The listener can almost always let in an idea more easily if it is couched as a genuine question.
(Never say: “Why don’t you do such and such.” That is often heard as judgement or a suggestion, not a genuine question.)
2. When your question is received, it can trigger a thinking process that gives you more information about your client. Plus, they can add their own ideas to yours and the outcome becomes stronger for them. As they consider the answer to your question, their mind creates a scenario that incorporates your idea into their world.
I have been amazed at the power of this process. For me, it has the benefits of
- strengthening our relationship,
- empowering the client, and
- creating much better solutions.
What kinds of questions have you found to be most useful?
What are the times that a question would probably not be a good idea?