Monday, January 7, 2013

The Art of the Question - The Art of Listening


"Good questions can move your business, organization, or career forward. They squeeze incremental value from interactions, the drops of which add up to reservoirs of insight. Of all the skills innovators can learn from journalists, the art of the expert Q&A is the most useful." - Fast Company, Dec. 17, 2012
According to Shane Snow at Fast Company, questions are "the one conversational tool that will make you better at absolutely everything." He offers this advice for asking the kind of questions that yield insight:
  • "Don't ramble on--terminate the sentence at the question mark."
  • "Get comfortable with silence."
  • "Start with "who, what, when, where, how, or why" for more meaningful answers."
  • "Don't fish for the answer you want."
  • "Stop nodding if you don't understand--ask a follow-up instead."
  • "If you get a non-answer, approach it again from a different angle."
  • "Rephrase the answer in your own words."
  • "Don't be afraid to ask dumb questions."
Most of us probably know that questions are important yet do we really use them to the fullest? Often our ability to listen is blocked by:
  • The tendency to "wait for our turn to talk" rather than to interact
  • Approaching dissent as a threat or attack
  • Tuning out before the other person has finished speaking
What are some ways you've learned to increase your effectiveness as a questioner, and/or as a listener?  

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