How many times have you asked a co-worker, a friend, or a family member “How are you?” and not really listened to the answer. And how many times have you answered that question knowing that the answer won’t really matter because they aren’t really listening.
I have even greeted people with “hey, how are ya?”. And the answer is “good” 95% of the time (with the occasional fine, ok, or not feeling well thrown in).
In this day and age of information being thrown at us from all angles, have we forgotten how to ask good questions, and even further, how to receive great answers?
In a study completed with over 11 000 leaders, and 86 000 of their coworkers it was easy to see that leaders who ask, listen, and respond to those answers are seen as more effective. The same thing followed when a similar study was done with customers and satisfaction ratings. The bottom line is – People like to be asked, and they like to know that their answer matters.
We need to regain our listening skills and that can only come through a conscious decision to be more involved in everyday small talk. Only ask questions when you are willing to listen and respond to the answer. Think of the right questions to ask that will give the answer you are looking for – without being too direct of course. Be cleaver, like a detective, and learn how to ask the right questions in the right situations.
Now, at work, this is fairly easy to do. How can I be a better employee? How can I do my job more efficiently? How can we increase customer satisfaction?
Now try the same thing in your personal life? How can I be a better partner? How can I make my home a more positive environment? How can I be a more supportive friend?… These are more difficult questions and may require you do dig deep to find the right words.
But I’ll assure you, the right words will be most effective if finished off with a question mark, and will be topped off with some feedback, and followup.