I have learned there is a great deal of power in asking a question. When you ask a question, you harness an irrefutable natural law. There is no stopping the effect this law will have on the human psyche. All you must do is stand back and watch in awe as things unfold. It is like karma. What you put out there in the universe comes back to you at some point. If you put forth a question, an answer will eventually come back to you.
In order to get a response from someone, ask an open-ended question. It is a sure way to start a dialogue. It is also an ironclad way to build a relationship. When you send a handwritten notecard to someone, end your message with a question. When you post something online, such as on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, end your post by asking a question.
People will be naturally drawn to you in order to complete the action of responding to your question. People may not necessarily return a notecard or answer your post directly. However, you will remain on their mind until they close the loop in some way. Those questions have power; the power to move people toward you.
Speakers have known for a long time that a proven way to engage with an audience is to begin a talk with a provocative question. Members of the audience will be naturally drawn in. Another technique speakers use to get the immediate attention of an audience is to ask for a “show of hands” when they pose questions at the beginning of a talk. Questions do get attention.
Leaders can use a questioning technique to build teams and cultivate trust. There is a leadership method known as “appreciative inquiry.” It is a very positive way in which to lead. Instead of a leader barking out a directive, the leader could guide a colleague down a path to effectiveness by asking questions instead.
For example, instead of a leader ordering an employee to talk into the telephone to a customer with a smile on their face, a leader might ask the employee what they could do differently in order to sound more cheerful and positive when talking to a customer on the telephone.
In this way, the leader guides followers to determine what positive action to take. The follower will feel they have a stake in the solution they identified and therefore, the action is more likely to happen, even when the boss is not looking.
In order to strengthen relationships with bosses, colleagues, followers, customers, vendors, and influencers try asking questions. You will be surprised how hard it is for people not to answer. There may be some power in making a statement. However, I have found that there is generally even more power when leading and relating to others by asking a simple question. The question mark at the end of a sentence has a way of unleashing a power that the universe will find hard to contain.
Have you had an experience where asking a question has led to a new or stronger relationship with someone?