For those who know me, you will know one of my favourite (and at times most frustrating) questions is “How do you mean?”
It’s a favourite question because it softer than “What do you mean?” and because it is a great way to find out exactly what the person is saying or thinking or trying to explain. It causes me to pause and be sure that I know, rather than assume I know, what the person is saying.
And as great as this question is, the most important thing is that it is a question.
There is so much power in questions. So much ability to draw in and hear what people are really saying. So much power to fully understand them.
A recent study of people involved in negotiation showed that the average person spends 11% of their time asking questions, but for the most successful negotiators this number more than doubles to almost 25% of their time. Just asking questions.
Effectively the best negotiators are people that … ask.
Until they fully understand the other persons point of view. And because of that they win people’s hearts, and reach agreement, and get positive movement.
All through the power of questions.
The weird thing about asking questions is that it makes me appear way smarter than I am. Often the mere act of asking questions causes people to think in ways they haven’t before. And they come away from our conversation thinking I helped them with wisdom, when all I really did, was ask questions.
So the next time you’re trying to help someone, or understand a problem. Try asking 5 questions (way harder than it sounds) before even trying to give your opinion.
When you do this, you too will discover the power of questions.