Monday, 10 November 2014

Converse to Lead others to converse !!

We all at some point or the other have felt and noticed how some people just use their charm and charisma, or their ability to think and handle with ease when their guests say something unexpected. Perhaps it’s their genuine interest in the people which helps them deal with such situations with utmost ease.These are all great traits. However, for me, the characteristic that come to my mind is that they all have the ability to guide the conversation so that the other person takes centre-stage or, at least most of the time. It’s all about how you converse. 

Do you ask questions like :
Are you ok?
Shall we have a meeting about the project?
Did you finish the project report ?
Would you do this for me? 
or Do you say?
How are you getting on with that project? 
What are you feeling like at the moment?
Why did you choose to do it that way?

The four questions on top are closed questions. They would get answers in monosyllables of a “Yes”or a “No.” Where as the open questions that start with a Who…? What…? Why…? When…? How…? The open questions encourage a longer answer eliciting more than a short, sharp response that a closed question offer. They get the other person to think and reflect on their thoughts, opinions, and feelings and express them.

Open questions help you:
- Learn more about a situation.
- Develop a great conversation.
- Show people that you’re interested in them.
- Get someone’s opinion.
- Avoid any kind of misunderstanding.
- Help people come up with their own solutions to problems.
Here I am reminded of some questions that I recently asked my client who was trying to lose weight and during one of conversations, I wanted to tell him not to eat junk food rather carry lunch to work. So had I asked him “why don't you bring your lunch to work?” it may have caused resistance. If the clients feel they are being told what to do or feel they ‘re being shamed, they tend to feel anxious. Asking the same question using the word “how” or “what” changes the tone. The questions like : "What keeps you from carrying lunch to work?” or “How would things have to change for you to prepare your lunch for work?” imply that a situation can be changed and not making the client feel that he/she is at fault. 

Asking open questions move clients forward instead of those that seek to justify what went wrong? For example asking “What can you try next time you’re hungry at 10 pm?” may prompt a solution, while “Tell me what you were thinking when you ate those cookies” focuses on what the client did wrong. We could also land up with suggestions posing as questions, like “Could you keep a water bottle at your desk?” These might not be good for the client .The more open the question is, the more opportunity the client has tothink of a way that will work for him or her. Instead I asked, “How can you remind yourself to drink water more often?” This left the solution wide open for the client to decide.

Some more questions that helped my client to plan ahead, including strategies to circumvent roadblocks were,“What will you do if you get hungry after lunch?” or “When will you fit the two-mile walk into your schedule?” will ensure the client leaves with a solid plan, including strategies to circumvent roadblocks.

Learn the art of great conversation and an effective way to learn how to ask more open questions is to reflect upon the conversations that you have with people.What questions did you ask? How could you have rephrased a closed question so that it was an open question?Then aim to improve your questioning skills, one conversation at a time.

Over to you: Be a charmer all the way !

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Determine your Learning style

Sharing what I used often as a teacher!
Every one has preferences for learning. It’s all about what works best for you. If you understand how you learn best, how you comprehend any new information coming across you, studying for exams or acquiring new skills on a new job, you can save on your time. Do you see more or hear more or do more? That helps you know your style of learning. The most common learning style are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. We can have more than one style working for us !
Think back on a class in which you received a good grade. How did the teacher teach? How did you study for the tests?
Let me give you and example of a simple task of remembering a phone number(though these days you don't need to ). 
Do you see, in your mind’s eye, how the numbers look on the phone? Or can you ‘see’ the number on a piece of paper, picturing it exactly as you wrote it down? You might be a visual learner
Or, perhaps you can ‘hear’ the number in the way that someone recited it to you, breaking into 3 digits. In this case, you might be an auditory learner
If you ‘let your fingers do the walking’ on the phone, i.e., your fingers dial the number without looking at the phone, you may be a tactile/kinesthetic learner.”

So go ahead explore your style of learning and move closure to your goals!!!

Article in the news paper