Socrates is famous for saying â€œthe unexamined life is not worth livingâ€.Â His method was by using questions, rather than statements, assertions or commands to understand situations.
For instance, instead of saying â€œwe need to improve our customer service!â€ we might ask, â€œhow is our customer service impacting on customer retention, size of purchases, referral rates, etc.â€? Â We know that in sales, youâ€™re more likely to succeed with a prospect by looking him/her in the eye and asking questions about his/her business, rather than reading slides talking about his own company. Similarly, the key to great leadership, especially when coaching, is to ask insightful (and often carefrontational!) questions.
Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others is a recent book that will stimulate your thinking. Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas focus on how great questions:
- Invite others to contribute their expertise,
- Draw out othersâ€™ experiences,
- Clarify the meaning of words,
- Encourage thinking through issues,
- Solicit solutions from other
- Enable others to gain self-confidence
- Synthesize issues and see the big picture
They identify 337 questions to help you succeed at life and work, with detailed analysis of two dozen. Here are a few samples;
- To better understand someone: â€œWhat in your life has given you the greatest fulfillment?â€ How did you get started in this business?
- To get superior performance: â€œIs this the best you can do?â€ (Allegedly, Henry Kissinger asked this question of someone several times, and when the person finally said, â€œyesâ€, then he said â€œgood, now Iâ€™ll read it.â€)
- To wrap up a sales call: â€œWhat question havenâ€™t I asked?â€
- To delve into a personâ€™s psyche: â€œWhat was the most difficult question youâ€™ve ever b been asked?â€
- When making a tough decision of how to confront someone who has violated your trust, ask yourself â€œ if the circumstances were turned around, how would you like to be treated?â€
If youâ€™re taking time to reflect on life, work, family, etc., I highly recommend the book.Â And then share with us all â€“ whatâ€™s the most insightful new question that you learned to ask?â€