Nine Ways Questions Can Transform Professional and Personal Relationships - Slide 3

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They make the conversation about the other person — not about them.

Most of us don’t care what other people think — we want to know first if they care about us. The need to be heard is one of the most powerful motivating forces in human nature. That’s why power questions include “What do you think?” and “Can you tell me more?”

There’s an anecdote about a woman who has dinner, in the same month, with two great rival British statesmen of the 19th century, Gladstone and Disraeli. When asked to compare the two men she says, “After my dinner with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in the world.” And then she adds, “After my dinner with Mr. Disraeli, I felt as though I were the cleverest woman in all of England!” When you make the conversation all about you, others may think you are clever. But you will not build their trust. You will not learn about them. You will squander the opportunity to build the foundations for a rich, long-term relationship.

In his post, “Asking the Right Questions Can Have a Dramatic Impact on Your Life,” Don Tennant wrote about the importance of knowing what questions to ask in a given situation. The topic warrants further discussion, to elaborate on exactly why mastering the art of asking questions is so essential.

In that post Don shared some tips from Andrew Sobel, a management consultant, executive coach and co-author of “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others,” about asking questions during a job interview. To underscore the importance of asking questions in a more general context, here are nine ways Sobel says questions can transform professional and personal relationships.

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