Thursday, October 27, 2016

Minimize Mistakes: Ask Questions To Confirm and Clarify


Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” says Steven Covey. By listening to understand we learn what motivates our employees to perform and our customers to buy. Listening is the catalyst that fosters mutual understanding, and provides us insight into people’s needs and wants so that we can connect with them in a meaningful way.

Be curious. Good listeners ask questions to confirm and clarify what they heard. Here are some examples of confirming and clarifying questions:
  1. Identification of issue:
    • What seems to be the trouble?
    • What do you make of it?
    • How do you feel about it?
    • What concerns you the most about _____________?
    • What seems to be your main obstacle?
    • What is holding you back from _________________?
  2. Further information:
    • What do you mean by___?
    • Tell me more about it.
    • What else.
    • What have you tried so far?
    • What will you have to do to get the job done?
    • What support do you need to accomplish ______________?
  3. Preparation for Failure:
    • What if it does not work out the way you wish?
    • What if that does not work?
  4. Hypothetical:
    • If you could do it over again what would you do differently?
    • If you could do this any way you wanted, what would you do?
  5. Outcomes:
    • How do you want ____________ to turn out?
    • What do you want?
    • What is your desired outcome?
  6. Planning:
    • What do you plan to do about it?
    • What kind of plan do you need to create to accomplish _____________?
    • How do you suppose you could improve the situation?
  7. In relation to:
    • If you do this, how will it affect ________ ?
    • How does this affect _____________?
    • What else do you need to consider?
  8. Summary:
    • How would you summarize your effort/work so far?
    • How is this working?
  9. Taking Action:
    • What will you do? When will you do it?
    • How will I know you did it?
    • What are your next steps?
In my role as an account executive, I was proposing very complex solutions. My favorite boss taught me a crucial skill that I’ve carried with me through the rest of my career. Before I could request a proposal I had to send the client a confirmation letter to confirm and clarify the scope of the project. By doing this, we ensured that our offer was accurate. It prevented us from having to re-do proposals multiple times, and minimized mistakes and misunderstandings.

Influential leaders confirm what they heard and minimize mistakes.

Beth Rudy is a Senior Consultant with Insight Management Consulting, an organizational and leadership development firm located in Crofton, MD that focuses on leadership and talent development. She uses her passion, personality, and positive energy to influence individuals to become better communicators.

She has found that being an excellent communicator has helped her gain confidence to express her thoughts more clearly, share information more effectively, and resolve conflict more respectfully. Throughout the learning process she has discovered a lot about herself and others, and built strong and lasting relationships with customers and colleagues, as well as friends and family.

Studies show we spend 80% of our waking hours communicating. We spend 45% of that time listening. While listening is a large part of our daily routine, research also confirms that most individuals are inept listeners. To bring an interactive listening workshop to your organization please contact Beth.

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