At work, one of the best ways to improve your relationships with your colleagues, superiors and direct reports is to ask meaningful open-ended questions and then sit back and listen- actively. In an earlier blog post, I described active listening as the state where you focus completely on the other person, don’t speak, have open body language and nod encouragingly as you listen.
When you do that after asking questions which require more than a yes or no answer, amazing things happen to your communication.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re workingon a major project with many components and several colleagues. Try asking a question like “Could you please give me your perspective on the status of the project?” If they answer, “It’s going fine,” say “Tell me more. Could you give me an overall update on thehighs and lows and any concerns/ suggestions you may have?” That way, you will receive much more detailed information and gain some new insights. It’s much more effective than saying, “How’s the project going?” because that might yield only a one or two word answer. Thank the colleague for sharing their perceptions and decide what you want to do with the information. Either way, you’ll have shown the colleague that you value them and their input, and you may very well have gained new data you didn’t have before.
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