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“Good questions outrank easy answers.”

– Paul Samuelson

How would you like a simple technique to help you find out more about what is going on in your workplace, increase connection with people and boost creativity? What would that be worth to you?

Read on ..

Previously I’ve written about the power of getting out from behind your desk and increasing the amount of human connection you have on a daily basis. In doing so, you have the opportunity to grow your relationships with people. This increases your influence with people and develops your ability to lead better.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

– John C. Maxwell

This week, I want to expand further on this concept and talk about the questions you ask when you see people. My challenge to you not to ask the same question twice in one day. I suspect you may find this a little more difficult than you might first think, however, the payoff will be worth the effort.

When you are walking around the work place how many times do you ask “Hey, how are you going?” or something similar? Is this the same question you ask every time you run into someone new? It is my experience that lazy questions produce lazy answers. If you ask the same old questions you will get the same old responses and you are unlikely to learn anything new.

What if we were to change it up a bit by challenging ourselves to never ask the same question twice in the same day? What effect do you think that might have?

I suggest this technique to clients who are trying to increase their level of engagement with their team or struggle with finding out what is going on in the workplace. They all report back that, when they try it, one or more of the following occurs.

  • They feel more focused on the answers that they are getting from people
  • They learn new things about the people that they are talking to
  • People tend to be more thoughtful about their answers if it’s a question they have not been asked before
  • They boost their creativity

“Boost their creativity?” I hear you ask.

The first three in the list above may seem intuitive, while the last may be unexpected. That said, however, a recent Harvard Business Review Article, indicated that one of the ways you can boost creativity is by placing constraints on yourself. In doing so, you force yourself to think in new and creative ways.

What I am suggesting is that if you place a constraint on yourself to never ask the same question twice in one day, you may just boost your creativity. In this knowledge and information age, this is a force multiplier.

So, what I would like you to do is ….

As you move around your office this week, engaging with your team, notice how many times you ask the same question and notice the quality of the responses. Even this initial step will have the effect of sharpening your listening skills.

Then, when you feel up to it, take the challenge. Don’t ask the same question twice in one day. And that includes “Hi, how are you?” Try a few of these instead:

  • “How was your evening?”
  • “What’s the key issue on your plate today?”
  • “What do you need assistance with today?”
  • “How can I be of assistance to you today.?”

Remember, once you’ve asked the question once, you can’t use it for the rest of the day.  This is a simple undertaking but not necessarily easy as we have formed some deeply ingrained habits over the years. I truly believe, however, that if you take the challenge you will find yourself more focused on the answers your people give you, feel more connected with them and learn new things about yourself, your team and the environment.

And, when you have done it, please, let us all know how you went and what you noticed in the comments section below. Alternatively, if you know someone who is struggling with asking questions at work, feel free to share this article with them.

If you want to take this to the next level, set up the challenge in the work place. Challenge and hold each other accountable for not asking the same questions twice. Make a bit of a game of it and discuss amongst yourselves what you are noticing.

If you would like to discuss this, or any concepts around leadership, coaching, mentoring or anything I have written about, please feel free to get in contact with us here at Campbell Leadership Solutions.