With communication, we often talk about specific techniques, such as many of those discussed here for the past month in this series. But, there is a critical component of communication that is vital to being a good communicator, and that is “asking questions”.
One important way to understand the other person’s point of view is by asking questions.
How does asking questions help in a conversation? Here are some ways:
- It makes you focus and pay attention to the conversation you are having; i.e., it forces you to really listen
- It leaves you thinking; gives you something to ponder and question
- It shows interest in the other person
- It shows you are genuinely engaged with the people around you, personal or professional
- It reduces the possibility of having a misunderstanding, if you ask questions to clarify the other’s position
It may sound simple, but asking questions is a vital component of skillful communication.
Here’s a task for you: challenge yourself to ask 2-3 provocative questions in the next conversation you have. To do that, you have to really listen and think. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. As you do this, you will find that you become less focused on simply getting your point across while you genuinely try to get to know or understand the other side better.
Question for you: Do you regularly have conversations in which you ask questions? Why or why not?