A surprising fact – your best question is your SECOND one

23rd June 2015

Good questions drive everything.

After all, ask the right things, and you learn the right info. You can then use it to make the right decisions, at the right time, to get the right results…

I know, I know – obvious, right?

So, given how critical questions are, here’s one for you:

     How often do you practise the questions you’ll ask?

In other words, do you always know in advance what you’ll ask, to get the information you need?

Most people don’t. For example, when preparing presentations, they often spend ages creating their slides and script; but not the questions they’ll ask. This means they tend to not ask anything. So they deliver a one-way monologue, instead of a two-way dialogue.

So, yes, questions get people talking.

But it’s your Second Question that gets the value.

Here’s an example…

Imagine you’ve finished an important project, and want to be chosen to work on another.

You could go to the person who chose you for project #1, and ask your First Question – “how else can I help you?”

She can only give one of three answers – “you can”, “you can’t” or “I don’t know”. And her answer will dictate what your all-important Second Question is. So, if she says:

  • “You can – I have another project for you”, your Second Question could be “please can you tell me more about this new project?” (and then ask things like “Why is it so important? What are your measures of success? What are your early thoughts on how I might be able to help?” etc)
  • “Don’t know”, your Second Question could be “would you be interested in hearing about other projects I’ve worked on, to see if there’s something we haven’t considered yet?” (Let’s face it, she’ll probably say “yes” to this!)
  • “You can’t”, your Second Question could be “OK, that’s fine. But one question though…” and then use the question in the previous bullet

This is powerful stuff. Many people wouldn’t even have asked the First Question. Instead, they’d have finished Project #1 with “thanks for including me. I enjoyed it. Bye.”
But you asked how else you could help.

And then responded to her answer with a powerful, pre-prepared Second Question. This makes it much more likely to lead to the outcome you want.

So, a quick recap – the steps are:

  • Create in advance your First Question. This gets her talking
  • Identify in advance the only 2-3 answers she could give to that First Question
  • Create in advance your response to each of these 2-3 answers

I guess I’m saying: prepare questions in advance. Your First Question will open doors; your Second will close the deal.

Action point

This morning, you’re about to have some important conversations. To help get the outcomes you want from them, script and rehearse your First and Second Questions.
Effective Questioning and Listening underpin successful communication. I‘m going to explain in detail how to master both at my Drayton Bird seminar. The Early Bird discount of £350 ends today. To confirm your interest – and secure your discount – click here.

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