Asking questions: it takes courage

On this blog I often encourage people to #ask: for help, for an increase in salary, for a great opportunity. But it is also invaluable to ask questions.  Answer my quick survey here. However, this can take real courage as asking a question means you have to listen to the answer – and it might not be what you want to hear!

Who has been asked the question “Do I look good in this?” – every husbands’ dreaded question.  Or someone has spent all day cooking a meal yet when you are asked if you like it (and you don’t), then what do you say? “White lies” are a good idea, as the person asking the question might need reassurance or confidence.

However, the person ASKING the question might be wanting valuable information: she might need to know that a dress she is planning to wear might NOT be appropriate for an event, or that in fact there isn’t enough salt in a dish that she’s prepared.

We ask questions for a number of reasons: we might want something, we could want advice, we could want some help or a favour doing, or a simple endorsement!

However, sometimes asking questions requires a lot of courage. What happens if you get a cruel or spiteful response? What happens if the person refuses to help you? What happens if they give you incorrect information?

Asking questions always has a risk of an unwanted response. But is that a good enough reason NOT to ask a question where you might receive some outstanding information or opportunity?

There are, however, a couple of tips I use when I ask people a question, to avoid the wrong response.

  • I pick who I ask. Sadly there are some people who, for whatever reason, are ungenerous, grumpy or whatever, and they should be avoided.
  • Pick your moment; if someone is busy, stressed or rushing off to do something, it is unlikely you will get a positive response, if any.
  • Plan your question; if you are rambling or are not clear what you want from the other person, you are unlikely to get a positive outcome.
  • Be confident when you ask the question. If you have good body language; a strong voice; good posture and eye contact, you are more likely to be successful.
  • Be prepared for ANY response! You might not get the one you expect! Whether this is that the person can’t  help you, might have something else in mind for your career, or sadly, have their own agenda, take their answer with grace then decide whether or not you agree with their response.

And just to to prove I  ask questions, would you mind answering a couple of questions about speaking?? The questionnaire will take 2 minutes maximum. Please answer the questions!


About the author

Susan Heaton Wright is a former opera singer who works with successful individuals and teams to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience in using the voice and performing on stage, she works with people to improve their performances in a range of business situations; from meeting skills and on the telephone, to public speaking, presentations and appearing on the media.

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