Influence. We all want it to some degree. Whether its influence with your boss, your employees or even your spouse, influence allows our ideas to be heard and used. But you need to know what people value before you can influence them. By getting the other person to focus on what they value, your influence becomes more accepted, even expected.
The way to keep people focused is to get them to think, not just teach them. Teaching people is important but it only allows them to do what they’ve learned. When you get them to think they become innovative. They can improve, expand upon and create. They are not just drones who do what they are programmed to do. And you teach people to think by asking good questions. Remember, the person asking the questions is in control of the conversation.
Examples of two good questions:
- Is there a question I didn’t ask you today that you think I should have? This is a good thing to ask at the end of a conversation. It proves to person that you care and it gets them to think more deeply about what you’ve told them. It may even get them to ask the question they were afraid to ask.
- Is there a difference between what you think is important about your job and what others think is important about your job? This type of question can help create more awareness of priorities. It allows them to see more than just their side of an issue, putting a proper perspective on the issue at hand.
Of course, asking questions just to ask questions can backfire. It’s not only annoying, but can sometimes open you up to potentially awkward situations, eroding any credibility you had up until you unload the mother of all bad questions.
Some potentially bad questions could be:
- Are you sure you have the smarts to do this job?
- Are you male or female?
- How are you still working here?
- When’s the baby due? Oh…you’re not pregnant.
- Is that your real hair?
- Do you make your own clothes?
It’s easy to avoid asking bad questions, just keep your mouth shut! But asking good questions takes effort. Sometimes we like to shoot from the hip. Unfortunately that only works if you are a good shot. And even good shots miss on occasion. One of the things you can do is every time you ask a good question write it down. Start stockpiling them, store them somewhere you can review them often. Over time, you will have these great questions committed to memory. You’ll have questions for every scenario. It takes time to build a group of good questions, but once you have them, you’ll see your influence grow.
Did we answer all your questions?