How often do you hear someone ask, “Did you do X? Did you do Y? Did you do Z?”
Bad questions are a MAJOR way you block your own influence. A big pattern you likely have is asking yes/no questions. When you use yes/no questions, you’re literally encouraging the other person to give you a yes or a no. This limits their input into the conversation, and with enough Y/N questions, people will get frustrated, or confused. Or people will answer your bad question with just a yes or no. I once copped an attitude with a guy after I asked him a yes/no question and he responded yes…and that was it. I wanted more info and got a little huffy. He wisely told me, “don’t get worked up – you asked a bad question, so you’re getting a bad answer.” He was on the money that I was creating the problem.
More importantly…when you ask a string of yes/no questions, you’re also doing all the talking and thinking. You’re not getting input from others because you’re using all the airtime to ask crappy questions. Your influence with them is waning because – whether you mean to or not – you’re showing that you don’t think THEY can put the story together.
Another problem area with questions is you think you have the right answer, and you’re working to lead people there…see video 6 in this series for how that creates problems.
Another way people ask bad questions is by asking rhetorical questions. If you do this, you’re not getting real input, and people know it. You’re showing you want artificial agreement and people will start to tune you out, or worse.
The last way people reduce their own influence is by simply not asking enough questions. You stop being curious and wanting to know more. It can come across like you’ve got this figured out…when in reality you don’t, and the other person probably knows it.
Be aware of these tendencies with your questions. They are way too common and create a lot of drag in your work with others.
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