Summary: It can happen to us many times a day – we get asked a questions. As respectful adults, we answer questions that are asked of us. However, when it comes to training people or furthering their development, the best answer is another question.
It can happen to us many times a day – we get asked questions. As respectful adults, we answer questions that are asked of us. However, when it comes to training people or furthering their development, the best answer is another question. Normally this would drive us all mad, no one likes a question answer with another question.
When you trying to get people to think through a situation, the best thing you can do is NOT answer the question.
Let’s say they come to you with a situation or problem to solve. Instead of answering, you say “what would you do?” or “how do you think we should handle it?”. The first time you do this, I can almost guarantee you will get a “deer in the headlights” look. It may take some encouraging to get an answer. Do this enough time and they will come to you with “this is the situation and I want to do this” and then you ask “what do you think the result will be?”.
Explaining the same thing over and over again. There are some people who no matter how many times you have answered the same question, they will always ask you again. By asking questions you can uncover what is driving this behavior (not understanding, insecurity, etc.). Start by asking “What have you done already to take care of this?”.
This can even be applied to training. For example, you showing your new employee how to do a task on the computer system. What typically happens is we walk them through the steps, ask them to take notes and at the end say “understand?”. For fear of looking less than smart, the person who doesn’t understand, will say yes. What if instead you told the person, “today we are going to walk through how to do a client search. Looking at your screen, where you do think a good place to start is?”. This will get the person to look over the program and determine the logic of the computer program and help them start to navigate.
The same process can be used to handle client inquiries, customer complaints, accounting processes, etc. So don’t be afraid to answer a question with a question. You will actually be helping yourself, the person and the company by getting an individual to understand the process, procedure, rationale, etc.
Contact us if you need assistance with using this questioning technique.