April 17, 2019 |

The Art and Value of Asking Questions

I’m surprised at people, who…when given an opportunity to ask questions…don’t.  As a student of human behavior, it’s fascinating to me.  Questions are how we learn.  Questions are how we establish rapport.  Questions (or the lack thereof) reveal so much about a person.

When I prepare people for interviews, a point that I stress is this:  Questions differentiate candidates.  I’ll say it again: Questions differentiate candidates.  Here, I’ll take it one step further.  Questions differentiate people.

“Differentiate them in what way?” you ask.

“in life.” I reply.

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Questions are an indication of interest and engagement. When you ask questions, it demonstrates that you’re engaged in the conversation; that you’re fully present and genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.
  • Questions are an indicator of intellect. Asking thoughtful, insightful questions is one of the most impressive things you can do in conversation.
  • Questions are an indicator of preparation and research. They are a way of demonstrating you’ve done your homework…without bragging that you’ve done your homework.
  • Questions are a way of showing that “you get it”. The ability to actively listen, process new information and ask relevant questions organically is proof that you can think on your feet and connect the dots in real time.

I always give people an opportunity to ask questions.  Two reasons: 1) It’s respectful and courteous and 2) I want to see how smart they are and how their mind works (or if it’s working at all).

How about you?  Do you ask questions?  And if so, what do your questions say about you?