We should all strive to be life-long learners: taking the time to grow our knowledge and our relationships for as long as we can. There is perhaps no better way to tackle this challenge than to get comfortable with asking questions. Asking questions is one of our principal methods of learning. Plus, being curious about people is an easy way to make a good impression – most people love to talk about themselves! Let’s discuss how asking questions can help you maintain an edge in your work life and in your personal life.
Say you meet a new business associate from your company who works at a different location. Right away, there is a limitless number of questions you could ask. How long have you been with the company? What did your previous experience look like? What projects are you working on currently – any particular favorites? How do you like to spend your time when you’re not at the office? By asking these simple questions, you have given your associate the sense that their colleagues care about getting to know them. Plus, you just might have added another friend to your business network. When you make people feel good about themselves in a conversation, you are earning respect for yourself. You both win.
Now, let’s say you meet a new neighbor who just moved in next-door. You could just exchange names – or you could delve in deeper. You could ask this neighbor about family, children, education, travel, careers, goals — you name it. If the new neighbors are a couple, the old “where did you meet?” is always a solid conversation opener. A good chat, filled with lots of questions, will help you learn all about your new neighbor. As an added bonus, that neighbor will likely have a very positive view of you because you took the time to ask about their life. Right away, you have made a new friend.
The more you ask questions, the more confident you will feel to raise your hand – even when it feels uncomfortable. Imagine you are in a business meeting and the group is working on a big project. You realize that you don’t understand some piece of the plan. Don’t be shy – ask the question. I’ll bet there are others in the room with the same question who are too shy to ask. It is crucial that your team members understand a plan on the front end; if people walk away confused, execution becomes problematic. Even if you do understand the basics, don’t be shy about asking the more detailed “why” questions. Getting to the root of that “why” will help with the execution.
The bottom line is that too many of us are shy and don’t ask the questions that could enhance our work and personal lives. Curiosity is natural and helps us improve ourselves. Remember, we learn by asking questions. Don’t be shy: ask, ask, ask!
published Nashville Business Journal