Posted by Howe Q. Wallace on Thursday, February 26th, 2015
Asking a good question is powerful.
One of my best teachers, Eugene Emerson Jennings, said you will be successful if you do three things:
Listen more than you talk. He said you know what you know. Treat every interaction like you are a cup receiving contents. That’s better than being a cup pouring out your contents. If you talk you eventually run empty. If you listen, you stay full.
Second, ask questions rather than supply answers. His thought was that it takes two people to have a conversation. If you adopt the strategy of asking questions more than you give answers, you will end up listening and learning more.
He emphasized the importance of thoughtful questions. When you ask a good question, people notice. A good question shows your tracking the conversation and giving it your attention. A good question shows you value what is being shared and builds good will. A good question provokes a deeper answer versus an automatic one. Thus, the answer has a chance to provoke deeper insights for both people. It’s powerful.
The final strategy was to make sure you got the meaning about what was said.
He meant that some people say things and mean something else.
You all know the circumstance. A maybe means no. Or sometimes a yes.
Hesitant answers can’t be trusted as fact. He urged us as listeners and questioners to read between the words. To pay attention for cues. To dig deeper than face value.
I learned this stuff almost 50 years ago as a young professional. It means something that I can recite those strategies without consulting notes.
Like most people. I like talking. I like being the one with the answers.
But, I’ve found listening and questioning with the goal to understand what is being meant as well as said to work very well.