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.
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 !