3 Types of Questions to Unlock Important Conversations

Questions to Unlock Important Conversations

Using Questions to Unlock Important Conversations
Expert communicators and influencers like to use three types of questions to unlock important conversations.

Why?

Asking Effective Questions
Because it is more effective to ask well considered questions than to to advocate for your point of view by lecturing your audience on the soundness of your perspective.  Communication skills training teaches that you are more likely to influence your listeners through insightful questions rather than by advocating what they should think or do.

Advocacy vs, Inquiry

  • Advocating your position means that you are spending your efforts and energy trying to persuade others to agree with your point of view.
  • Inquiry means focusing on trying to understand the the position of others instead of trying to convince them of your argument.

While both advocacy and inquiry are needed for effective leadership and two-way communication, it is difficult to engage employees and inspire others unless they feel heard and understood.

Better Inquiry
To conduct better inquiry and to ask questions to unlock important conversations, plan your questions around what you are hoping to learn and where you are hoping to lead your audience:

1.  Fact-Based Questions
When time is short and you need specifics, ask fact-finding questions. These are the queries that help clarify your listeners’ thinking and that begin with “what, where, who and when.”

2.  Why and What If Questions
When you need to expand the context of your argument and want your audience to broaden their perspective, begin your questions with “why” and “what if.”

3.  Connecting Questions
When you need to work toward a compromise and build trust, use questions that bring the two sides together. Help your listeners see the consequences of action or inaction with questions that ask “if” and lead to “then what.”

The Bottom Line
It is more effective to ask well considered questions than to to advocate for your point of view.  Invest the time to learn how to influence your listeners through insightful questions rather than by advocating what they should think or do.

To learn more about how to ask questions to unlock important conversations, download Effective Communication Skills – The Essential Ingredient in Any Interaction

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