Great questions lead to great interactions and will allow you to be in control of the conversation while gaining all the benefits of listening and learning about the other person. But sometimes the questions we ask just don’t work.
To ask questions more effectively, you may try different types of questions. Here are two types:
It may not be what we say to someone that affects him or her in a personal way, but rather how we respond to what they say and how they feel. If we can get to the core of an issue and hear another person express her pain or joy, we will have made a significant connection with them. If we listen and show we care about their situation without speaking, we most likely will be perceived differently and more positively. And in order to do this, we must pose questions that get to the “heart” of what matters most to them. Some powerful “Heart Questions” are:
- What has surprised you most about being a grandparent?
- What were the biggest challenges you had to starting this career or business?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- Who are you responsible for?
Almost everyone who answers questions like these will experience some kind of emotional reaction in regards to their response. If you are asking these questions, and are authentically interested in what they have to say, then you will have jump-started a connection and a relationship that will not easily be forgotten.
The funnel technique involves starting with general questions, and then asking for more and more detail as you go along. It’s often used by detectives who are taking a statement from a witness. It is a strategy for getting more deeply involved in a conversation with a person by finding out as much as you can. For example — my father used this method with anyone who I had a date with in high school. It was miserable for me; but often my dad — in about 15 grueling minutes — knew more about the young man I was dating than I did.
Funnel questions are good for finding out more detail about a specific point or person, and gaining the interest or increasing the confidence of the person with whom you’re speaking. Asking ‘tell me more’ funnel questions will focus the other person on a particular area, thereby providing you with more information. And following those questions with precision words like ‘specifically,’ ‘actually’ or ‘particularly’ gives the person subtle direction to give you more detail in a particular direction.
For example, “You said that you began developing this product while you were in New York. What, specifically, prompted you to begin development of this product? When exactly did you begin?”
Consider evaluating the questions you ask and determine whether they could be better. It can make a significant difference!
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