The Art of Listening
Just ask, and then stop talking and deeply listen. There is so much to learn from asking good questions. It is a bit of an art form, and a skill that executive coaches work hard to develop.
Open questions are the best because they are open. I imagine that sounds basic, but it is so revealing when someone can answer a question the way they want and share what is on their mind or in their heart. When you ask great questions, with a sense of genuine curiosity, you can learn so much. My favorite short open question is just one word, “why?”
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Asking short open questions is a great way learn. “Tell me more” is a classic because it encourages the speaker to go deeper. This article from Fast Company takes “Tell me” to a whole new level. Read on…
One important thing I’ve learned about asking good questions is not to stack them. Ask only one question at a time, not 2 or 3 stacked questions at the same time. It is confusing for the listener because they don’t know what to answer. For example: Tell me about the project, what is the deadline? How is it going? What are your roadblocks? Ask just one question at a time, take a breath and listen. You can then ask your second question, building on the answer from the first.
This also applies to emails, be sure to not have too many divergent thoughts in one email. If it is absolutely necessary, use bullet points for clarity.
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