When a colleague has an idea or a new plan, it’s a very good idea to ask questions about it. After all, it shows you’re interested.

But you might want to be a little careful if you’re in a position of power. Immediate questions might send a message that you have concerns or that you don’t approve. Without meaning to, you can become very discouraging.

Here’s a little tip that may be helpful. In this situation, take a pause. First say something encouraging. Then ask your question. Also, keep your questions open ended. You will collect a lot more information and the encounter won’t seem like an interrogation. It will become an engaging conversation.

For example:

  • Colleague:  I have an idea that can decrease the number of mistakes we’re making.
  • You:  What error rate do you think you can achieve?

It would be much more effective to make the conversation look like this:

  • Colleague:  I have an idea that can decrease the number of mistakes we’re making.
  • You:  I am so glad you’re thinking about that. Tell me more about it!

The encouraging remark before the question is so much better! And the open-ended question doesn’t feel as if you’re immediately putting your colleague on the spot. It’s a wonderful little habit to cultivate — and it also works wonders when you’re talking to your children.

 

 

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