How to Turn Idle Chatter into Questions that Matter – Principle 3

By Tom Davidson

If you want to get people thinking, solving and doing, put horsepower in your questions! If you don’t, you’re likely to have plenty of nice chats without making any real difference. To get the most from your questions, use the following three principles. Make them short, open-ended and shut up! In my last two blogs, I discussed how to keep your questions short and open-ended. Today is about the last, and perhaps hardest, principle of all, shutting up!


You Still Can’t Listen and Talk at the Same Time.
Just because you’re a manager, doesn’t mean you have all the answers. In fact, you’re going to have fewer! That’s why you need to increase your listening time and decrease your talking time – dramatically. There’s no better way to do that than to shut up after you’ve asked a question.

Stop Rambling, You’re Not Helping. The problem here is asking a perfectly good question but then rambling on about it, rephrasing it, telling a story about it, or elaborating on why you’re asking it. Most people who keep talking after asking a question are trying to help the other person come up with an answer or make the impact of their question softer or more palatable. Don’t. You’re not helping; you’re getting in the way.

The Powerful Pause. Silence can be uncomfortable in any conversation, but used strategically, there’s nothing more powerful in the world of questions and answers. They’re having a hard time answering your question? Wait. They don’t know what to do next? Bite your tongue. Your question made them stop and think? Let them.

For information on the other two principles of Powerful Questions, check the previous two days’ posts. Then chime in your own tips for turning idle chatter into questions that matter.

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