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Questions That Get Results: How to Inspire Action with Your Words

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How can I get my people to do what I need them to do?

As a leader, one of the most powerful tools available to you is the ability to ask engaging, open-ended questions. This type of questioning, known as the Socratic style, encourages engagement and dialogue among team members. By asking open-ended questions, leaders can create an environment where everyone feels safe to share their ideas and opinions. Not only does this help foster better communication and collaboration within teams, but it also helps promote a culture of creativity and innovation. Moreover, by asking open-ended questions, leaders can gain valuable insights into their team’s thought processes and understand how they think about certain topics or problems. Asking open-ended questions can be a great way for leaders to gain valuable insights into their teams that can help them make more informed decisions in the future.

To demonstrate, let’s look at what’s lacking with some commonly used closed ended questions.  

What's Wrong with This Leadership Question?

"Are You with Me?"

Assuming the intent is to gain a follower or advocate, let me count the ways.  

  1. It’s binary (with a 50% chance of receiving the undesired response
  2. It’s closed ended; thereby limiting the amount of thought required for an answer
  3. It’s assumptive and could be perceived as manipulative

The question assumes the answer is binary; either yes or no.  Might it also assume that there’s no room for “maybe“?

Consider a similar query:

Do you trust me?

With either of these closed ended questions:
  • When is the answer really that simple? 
  • What version of the truth do you really expect to gain by asking this way?  

Open-ended questions are an essential part of any conversation. They allow the participants to explore a topic in depth and can help to uncover hidden insights. This makes them especially valuable in customer service, market research, and other areas where understanding people’s needs and opinions is important. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to create open-ended questions that are effective and engaging. We will look at how to craft questions that get people talking, as well as strategies for avoiding common pitfalls when creating open-ended questions.


Three Ways to Open Your Questions to Inspire Action

These three little words transform a binary question to request a more thoughtful response.  So instead of the simple “Are you with me?”, consider:

“To what extent do you agree with this?

This allows the respondent to offer an opinion beyond a simple yes or no. And it allows you to learn about the level of agreement.  It minimizes the chances of false assumptions.  

This survey/explain approach requires thought on the part of the respondent with both of these two questions.  Does it take longer to ask two questions instead of one?  Of course. But ask yourself: What’s more important, getting an answer or getting the truth. 

Some form of the word real (really) is an effective way to gain candor.  For more detailed tips, use the button below. 

The Leader's Goal: Transfer of Ownership

How do you transfer ownership of your ideas from you to your followers?

In addition to the word “real”. there’s another magic word for enhancing engagement’ agree.   If you lack agreement, how far can you go?

If you agree that transferring ownership of your ideas is potentially valuable, become more aware of how well you use effective questions to inspire others. 


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