HMMM, Is it more important to ASK great questions or LISTEN to the answers?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I can tell you that both are far more important than focusing only on what you want to tell people.

I posted these today in response to Dan Mulhern’s note on how important Listening is to leadership. I couldn’t agree more.

The following is two sections that appear back to back in my new book “The Universal Guide to Business Networking“. Take a quick read and see how you can apply these concepts in your daily AND business life.

It Starts With Asking Great Questions

You will be perceived as a better conversationalist once
you master the art of questioning.

Questions keep the conversations moving. Insightful
questions help you learn a lot about the topic. It’s
important to use your questions wisely as they are the
green lights for others to feel good about you.

You can use questions to turn the conversation in any
direction you choose. You want to know about the past,
ask where they went to high school. You want to know
about what kind of friends someone has, ask them about
the last house party they hosted/attended. Want to know
about their work, ask how they spent their Tuesday.

Open-ended questions yield more results. Questions that
can be answered with a yes or no are considered closeended
questions. Open-ended questions draw longer
responses out of people.

I have a rule. I can ask anyone any question I choose. It is
up to them to decide whether or not they want to answer.
When I am about to ask a tough or personal question, I
share this philosophy to soften it a little.

Ever notice what type of people use questions effectively
to succeed in their career? Doctors, lawyers, psychologists,
interviewers, and business coaches have to ask great
questions. Do you think this is a coincidence? Me neither.

Once they ask the right questions, there is another step
they have to take.

Listen Actively

Worried about what you’re going to say next? Don’t be.
Afraid you only have 30 seconds to make a great first
impression? While I am not sure of the exact amount of
time, I know it’s short.

Want to know the best way to impress the person with whom you are speaking? Honor them. And you do that simply by actively listening to
them.

The best active listeners take what you say, put it in their
own words, and confirm mutual understanding. How
often do we say things that seem clear to both parties but
end up as a miscommunication? Both parties lose out.

Gary Evans, a college professor of mine, always said
“Words don’t mean, people mean.” This means that if you
don’t fully understand the intent behind the words I use,
you don’t really understand what I said. We have to dig in
a little bit to what was said.

Active listening creates a higher level of understanding.
Understanding a person’s needs and what you can do for
them is the first thing you should focus on when
networking. It is also the catalyst for people being
interested in you.

1 Response to “HMMM, Is it more important to ASK great questions or LISTEN to the answers?”


  1. 1 Dan Mulhern Monday, May 17 at 4:09 pm

    Terry,
    Nice branches out from the central core – that listening matters much.
    Thanks,
    Dan


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