Have you ever thought about the power of a question?
Recently I was at one of those webinars and the presenter came up with a statement that started me thinking. He said ‘A question is like the enter key on your necktop computer’.
He went on to explain – I only know this because I re listened to the recording – that when we are asked a question our brain tends to kick into a ‘solve the question mode’ The brain is always looking for clear resolutions – yes no answers. So the questions simply cause our brains to engage.
This statement sent me off thinking – proving the truth of the statement.
When I started to reflect on this later I found that I have been using questions in this way without understanding it for years. Asking the right question at the right time acts as a connection point with your listener.
Can you explain that?
How did you do that?
Why did that happen?
How might we solve this difficulty?
These are all open questions, inviting people to engage. What we want them to engage with is a dialogue leading to a conclusion. This works in Sales, in negotiation, in conflict resolution, in supportive personal relationships and of course in all kinds of business interactions.
The problem I have identified is in learning what question to ask and when to ask it and of course the appropriate use of a closed question at the right time. Closed questions like ‘Can I help you’ from an assistant in a shop make me crazy because they invite people to disengage. Closed questions don’t engage the brain they invite the yes or no response and that is a conclusion
They should be used to conclude things:
So we are agreed on these issues aren’t we?
Is that your final answer? (or would you rather phone a friend?)
My point is: If we ask the right question we can steer the conclusion towards the outcome we want for the business from the interaction and for me that is the reason for the interaction in the first place.
What do you think?