Some employees hold onto information like it’s a state secret. But asking the right kinds of questions – not just the right questions – can help get it out.
And sometimes the best questions aren’t really questions. They’re commands in disguise.
Open-ended questions help
Open-ended questions tend to produce answers beyond “yes” and “no” and “I don’t know” They start with words like:
- Who and
Closed-ended questions – those that invite those frustrating short answers – start with words like:
- Would and
Commands disguised as questions
Another technique for getting at that difficult information. Start by saying:
- “Tell me, Larry…”
- “Explain to me, Jill…”
- “Describe to me, Carol…”
You’ll get the person’s attention by using his or her name, and you’ll also make it clear what you expect
Don’t always expect you’ll get the answer you are looking for with that first question. Follow-up questions are important to getting to the true issue. Here are some examples:
- How so?
- When you say that, what do you mean?
- Hmmmm… Tell me more
Be patient. Don’t be afraid of a little silence. Sometimes the dead air is just what is needed for the other person to share what you are looking for.