Is one of your employees or clients doing something strange that you don’t understand? Are you tempted to jump in and suggest a “better way”? I would challenge you pause and take the time to ask some questions first.
The power of asking the right questions
Asking questions helps you step inside your clients’ and employees’ shoes to better understand what they really need. You might have a general idea of what your clients want from you and your business, what goals they’re trying to achieve, or what need they are trying to satisfy. But asking questions will bring more clarity. It will also make others feel respected and valued by you, because you care enough to ask and more importantly, to listen.
I have noticed in my life that asking questions rather than just answering them helps me and others connect on a deeper level. It builds rapport. When it comes to those I care for, it empowers them to create the answers to their life. They will learn to ask themselves questions as they make decisions throughout the day. It breaks off dependence and creates a sense of pride and healthy independence where they can be their own solution.
At first, I thought we had a poltergeist. Every time I walked into our kitchen my eyes went to the bay window. The strings used to raise and lower the wooden blinds had been thrown up in the air and were resting on one of the upper slats. There was no rhyme or reason to it. All very random – but annoying, because I was continually having to pull them out so they would hang properly.
The mystery was solved one afternoon as I sat at the kitchen island working. My daughter, Betsy, who was 8 at the time came flying into the kitchen. She ran behind the table and grabbed the string on the first blind and tossed it over her shoulder very dramatically. She did the same with the other 2 windows as she flew past.
My mom was old school. She would have simply yelled at me to stop doing that and I would have slunk away in shame – never to do it again. I decided to ask a question instead.
“Betsy, what are you pretending when you do that?”
She replied, “I am Snow White, and the huntsman is chasing me through the forest. Those strings are the vines…”
Awesome, I thought.
Not only did her answer make perfect sense, it endeared me to her. It even saddened me when I stopped having to fix the blinds – Betsy having moved on to more grown up pursuits.
Asking questions will teach you new things every day about those you work with. As a bonus, their answers might floor you, in a good way. Do clients do things you don’t understand? Things that seem weird and inefficient? Before you jump in with your suggestions, ask them why? You might be surprised by their answer. You might be endeared.
Mari Sandifer | Director of Marketing & Business Development
Mari joined Rektio as Director of Marketing and Business Development in 2020 after spending over 25 years in corporate finance and 3 years as a business owner. She holds a BS degree in Marketing and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Her CPA license is inactive (and morbidly obese).
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