Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 “The play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
The question is the thing, whereby you’ll catch the information from your colleague or customer.
1. How can I help? A good starting or early question in any conversation. It signals positive intent to the person or group, while encouraging them to state what they need.
2. Could you tell me more? The more information the better. It also signals your interest in fully understanding the topic at hand.
3. What do you think? In a group setting, direct this to the person(s) who have been quiet. It tells the quiet people you care about their input and opinion. It tells the talkative people that all voices are welcome.
4. Can I talk this back to you? Paraphrase the messages, actions, or requirements. It signals that you were actively listening, and gives the person or group a chance to clarify. Even the most active listener may have missed something.
5. What would you like to have happen? Particularly useful in difficult situations. Getting someone to state directly what they want enables you to be able to respond directly in kind.
6. Would it be OK to ask [insert name here] to join us? Asking if someone else can join, instead of saying “I need so-and-so in this meeting” shows consideration. Be prepared however, to add “the reason that would be helpful is….” with the reason, so that people understand what can and can’t be accomplished without the additional person.
7. Silence. OK, not a question, but a useful tool in multiple situations if you need a moment to gather your thoughts, or in difficult situations to help others gather theirs.
8. Would it be OK if we took this offline? Twists & turns, the inevitable rat-hole of a loose thread. However, usually only advisable to use if you are leading or a leader of the meeting.
9. Let’s go over the next steps, OK? Sort of not a question, but if I had a nickel for each time that next steps weren’t covered and then misunderstandings arose, I’d have a pile of nickels.
You will have more & better answers if you ask more questions.
- If you are interested in informatics, big data, econometrics, infonomics (and almost all of us should be) then check out the Information Is Beautiful (@infobeautiful) site. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/ The “Million LInes of Code” infographic is one of my favorites.
- Following with interest the news that the MU-MIMO (multi-user – multi-input, multi-output) could greatly improve WiFi speeds. Here’s some initial information: http://bit.ly/1e0CvAQ
- April 8, 2014 is the official end of Windows XP, first introduced in August 2001. I’d say 13 years of life is pretty good for any technology. Check out http://signals.unh.edu/2014/03/11/windows-xp-technical-support-ends-on-april-8-2014/ for more information.
- I’ve fallen in like with the French term “apercu,” meaning “a comment or brief reference that makes an illuminating or entertaining point.” It reminds me that often the smallest comments or passing phrases are rich with meaning, and supports the need for active listening.
Questions? Comments? Post them below.