Clear Questions for Better Answers

megaphone Many times we make communicating with others harder than it really needs to be. There are simpler ways of communicating that will give us either the answer or information we need in a more clear direct way.

Most often this does not happen because of how we try to get the information from others in the first place.  For example, you want to find out the address to a clothing store that a coworker had been to.  You go to your co-worker and say “do you remember the yellow shirt that you wore last month, you know the one with the pretty silver buttons on it?”  Yes “well I really liked that shirt, and the color looked fantastic on you, I think you said that you got it on sale right? Yes “well you said that the store had a lot of really great deals and it wasn’t too far from here right? Yes “so where is it at?”

The simpler more direct way would be “Where is the store that you bought that nice yellow shirt that you wore last month?”  I think you get the idea, too many times we add too much filler to our questions instead of being more direct and at work this can be distracting and aggravating.

Here are three great questions to use that can help cut out the extra fluff and get directly to point.  By using them you save time by not having the extra chit-chat, and get the information or help that you need faster.

1. When you need to ask someone a question for information that is not vital at that moment ask “Is this a good time for you to talk with me?  Or “I have a question, is this a good time for you?”  This gives the person the freedom to either say “sure” or to let you know when would be a good time when it was less interrupting to them.  When you are considerate of your co-workers time they also will be of yours.

2. When a co-worker comes to you with a problem, issue or gossip the first question should be “Why don’t we get the facts so we can fully understand this issue, okay?”  This one simple question can not only save time, but it can stop those underlying office issues that can stir up a lot of trouble.  It is important to get all of the facts when trying to resolve a problem or issue anyway and all parties involved will appreciate it.  If it is just someone trying to stir the pot it usually stops them from going any further with the gossip, with you at least.

3. This last question is one that we use quite a bit in our office and we have made it a standard that when someone asks it, you respond immediately if at all possible. “I need your help, can you please….” You cannot say this any clearer.  You are directly asking for help and you are letting the person you have asked know what exactly they can do for you.  This above the rest has really helped us in our office, it is never abused, it is use only as needed.

It really is amazing how these three simple questions have helped communication in our office to be much clearer.  We would love to hear from you and what ways you have made communication clearer in your workplace.

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6 thoughts on “Clear Questions for Better Answers

  1. At the risk of sounding sexist, in my experience, women do this way more than men. The reason I think that is because women are far more congenial and social and it probably doesn’t feel right to just ask a question with no preamble. Guys on the other hand are much more detail focussed and are happy to get straight to the point – give me information, kinda thing. Hope that doesn’t come across as offensive! 🙂

    • Hi Stu, I think you are probably correct saying that this issue can be more of a female linked problem. But I do have to say, that I have ran into a few men who love to stir the pot just so they can keep the upper hand on things. 🙂

    • I think this is a bit of a generalisation. I attend (far too) many meetings that are padded out with fluff. Getting to the heart of the matter is tedious and time consuming. For example, a member of my team recently asked me to attend a project meeting because progress wasn’t being made. I listened for a while as everyone skirted around the issue. Direct questioning got things back on track. What are the issues? What are we going to do? Who can help?

      • Hi Tristan

        Nice to hear from you and thank you for your input. I am not one for beating around the bush. Getting directly to the point will move to resolve the issue so much faster.
        Have a great Monday!

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