I deal in questions. They’re part of my stock-in-trade territory of being a coach. But only part, alongside listening and giving a client my complete attention, and … I digress …
Richard Mullender in his most excellent book, Communication Secrets of a Hostage Negotiator, reminds us of the importance of listening first, before any questions are asked:
“Let the other person dictate the direction of the conversation until you are completely sure you know what it is that they want to talk about. This is not as easy as it sounds. There will often be a lot of words that interest you. Remember to stay away from questions. Each time you ask a question you run the risk of changing the subject and shifting the conversation to your own agenda, away from theirs. Make sure you just listen to them so that they stay in control until they have finished.”
Putting questioning into perspective like this can really help. Active listening is such a useful skill.
And if you’re at all concerned about the book title, thinking it might not be for you . . . Mr Mullender’s book is designed to help us all to communicate effectively. As he puts it . . . to free ourselves from the myths surrounding communication, and to help us to communicate more effectively.
Well worth a read.