About 30 years ago, I served as the youngest District Governor in the world for Rotary International service clubs. After serving, I was shocked when they asked me to train future District Governors.
In preparation for my new training role, I went through a one-week training course. The training really made me realize the true value of asking questions and listening.
Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding… Proverbs 2:2 ESV
I learned not only instructional and presentation skills, but most of all, how to facilitate discussion in a training session by asking high-quality, discovery questions.
The one skill I most remembered was when someone would ask me a question the tendency was to just answer it.
However, I learned to turn and ask the class how they would answer that question to encourage participative discussion.
Insight: I have learned that people like to hear themselves responding to questions.
Do you see yourself more as a “talker” or a “listener”?
Now imagine: What would it be like for you to do less of that and more of the other?
Do a 360-degree review and ask your co-workers, family, and friends concerning your skill at AQL (Ask Questions and Listen).
Asking questions takes practice, discipline, and patience.
To further develop your skill, try using the Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) – spend 80% of your time listening and 20% asking questions.
The Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Management consultant, Joseph Juran, suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire
Since we are all selling something (in our family, with friends, in the workplace and marketplace), consider the following:
- Asking questions helps people feel important, and they are likely to see you as a viable solution for their problem.
- Asking questions will help you be in an educated position capable of solving the problem.
- The more the customer talks, the more likely it is that they will buy.
- Customers respond to their own words and ideas with far greater conviction than anyone else.
- Customers may not believe statements you make but will believe their answers to your questions.
- Customers sell themselves.
I’ve discovered that one of the keys to being a great communicator is asking questions and listening! Here is a list of the blog posts I have written about what I call AQL™ – Ask Questions & Listen:
Maintaining good communication between people in a family, with friends, and at work is rooted in mutual understanding and is fundamental to their mutual success. Plus, discover three ways to avoid misunderstanding!
Stephen Covey describes five levels of listening. I break down the details of each, and highlight the top level to which we should all aspire! Which level do you employ in your communication with others?
Take a simple listening test that often reveals our need to listen better. Plus, learn five truths that will deepen your understanding of listening!
Want to become a model listener? Read about how you can use the four ways people listen to improve your communication!
Have you noticed that most people would rather talk than listen? Discover four reasons that people use to justify their lack of asking questions!
Peter Falk, from the TV show Columbo, was an expert at asking great questions. Release your “inner-Columbo” as you read about the three key benefits associated with asking questions!
Do you want great answers for the issues that you face in your business and life? I have learned that profound questions lead to profound answers! Don’t miss the free download in this post: “12 Profound Questions to Grow Your Business”.
Once leaders understand the importance of asking questions and listening, their next question is, “How do I teach these principles to my team?”. Read about how I successfully accomplished this in our own company, and how you can too. Plus, there’s a free download of the group exercises that I used with my team!
Great leaders understand that they must overcome their positional authority to really connect and communicate with their people. Great communication depends not only on what you say but how you say it! Don’t miss the free download: 34 Questions to Help You Give and Receive Feedback.
We are all selling something- even in our family, with friends, and in the workplace or marketplace. Learn how top salespeople use AQLTM to truly understand and meet the needs of their customers!
The way I used to deal with customer service complaints just didn’t cut it. After years of frustrating experiences, I finally realized that my approach needed to change. Read about my new approach – and see how you can use it in your own business! Plus, don’t miss the free printable download featuring a powerful quote by Stephan Covey!
The keys to success are seldom buried under a rock or hidden under a doormat. They are usually in plain sight. But they are often ignored. I’d like to suggest that the skills and habits of asking questions and listening are two such keys.
We all ask questions and listen, but we typically ignore their importance! My hope is that the above posts will equip you to open the door to better communication and effectiveness.
What aspect of asking questions and listening needs your attention? Do you need to consider changing the basic approach to communication?
Do you usually listen to truly understand, or simply wait for an opportunity to respond? I’d really like to hear from you on this important topic. You can leave your comments <here>. Consider sharing this AQLTM summary with a friend or co-worker!