You may have a high-profile position in your organization and feel like you need to appear to “know it all” so the people you lead have confidence in you. If you don’t understand something, which I suspect is rarely, you certainly want to be skilled when asking questions.
I don’t believe asking questions ever makes you look bad. I think asking questions shows that you have interest and genuine concern.
So really, this may be an opportunity, for a person in your position, to be a role model and demonstrate that it is okay, maybe even, admirable to ask questions.
The key the asking questions is to ask the right questions. The best questions to ask are ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions. Because there are no wrong answers to what or how questions. You give the other person tremendous flexibility in how they can respond. It takes the pressure off.
If you ask a who question – there is only one right answer.
If you ask a when question – there is only one right answer.
If you ask a where question – there is only one right answer.
If you ask a why question – which implies a judgment or evaluation, now you will be wrestling on the floor, because now people feel like they have to justify their comments and actions.
With good what and how questions you will probably get the who’s, the what’s, the when’s, the where’s, and the why’s, without putting pressure on the conversation. The more you give people a chance to talk, the better they will feel. Asking what or how questions demonstrates your interest and genuine concern.
Asking questions is a great way to engage others in 3 key communication areas: inclusion – people feel involved, affection – people feel you care, and control – people feel they have some impact or influence. So, What do you think?
If you and your coworkers are struggling with really listening to each other, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will provide a speech, seminar, workshop, or a live virtual presentation, that will enhance listening skills and improve relationships.