Tuesday Tip: Questions are critical. This quick self-test will show how yours stack up

This week’s top tip from our Liverpool Business Personality of the Year 

Every Tuesday, sales expert Andy Bounds shares his top tips to improve your sales and communications (you can get more of his advice at www.andyboundsonline.com). This week’s is…

We all know we’re supposed to listen to others.

That’s why we keep hearing sentences like “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth”, and the like.

But good listening means we need something good to listen to.

And that means we need to ask good questions.

But people don’t always ask good ones.

Do you?

Here’s a quick self-test:

  1. When preparing for presentations and meetings, I know you’ll prep what you’re going to say. But do you prep what you’re going to ask, to ensure the conversation flows?
  2. Do the people who you speak with always tell you useful information?
  3. Do you ask questions others haven’t heard before? (Trust me, “What keeps you awake at night?” isn’t one of them)
  4. Do your questions lead discussions to where you want them to go? Or do you ask things like “Any questions?” which allow others – not you – to steer the discussion. Or not participate at all
  5. Do you dig deep into their answers, so you get past their first, possibly superficial answers – “Please could you tell me more about that?”, “Why do you say that?”, “What impact would that have?” and so on
  6. Do you ever find that you worked on something, only to find out later that you’d misunderstood the brief?
  7. Do you sometimes ask questions for the wrong reason? For example, to:
    • show how clever you are
    • slow things down, or
    • “do a Ron Swanson” from the excellent TV show Parks and Recreation (if you haven’t seen it, check it out here – very funny)

I once heard someone say “Some people listen and converse. Others simply wait for their turn to speak”.

Which one are you?

Action Point

Here are some (hopefully good!) questions for you:

  • Which of the seven self-test questions made you most feel “Hmmm… I’m not sure I’m good at that one”?
  • What 1-2 simple changes could you make, to improve in that area?
  • If you like learning by videos (and isn’t the Ron Swanson one funny?), here’s how to access loads of my hints and tips on video

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