Power Questions : Chapter 5 – 6

“A person wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

This is one of the quotes I liked as I read through the book Power Questions. Today I’m going to continue with Asking the Right Questions series and share more practical ways how to influence people, win business, and build a strong personal and professional relationship.

I was talking to a friend about leadership the other day. What is leadership? A simple way to describe it is The ability to influence others. Politicians need leadership to influence people when they vote; sales representatives need leadership to influence customers on their decision of purchase; parents need leadership to shape the future of their children; communicators need leadership to influence the thoughts of an audience; and even scientists need leadership in their publications and presentations when they persuade their peers with evidence, results and their contributions. In this sense, leadership is important to everyone of us. How do we have greater influence on others then? A key component of leadership is relationship, and a key component of relationship is how well we communicate with others.

The book Power Question provides a great approach to achieve greater leadership through effective communication that builds strong relationships. Here are some good advice we can certianly benefit from:

  1. Ask questions to clarify and define the fundamental concepts communicated. For example, when someone says “we need more innovation.” ask “Can you describe what innovation means to you?”; when there is a call for teamwork, ask “When do you mean when you say teamwork?”; when a friend says they want more work-life balance. Ask this friend, “What is work-life balance for you?”
  2. Consider using questions instead of statements, assertions, or commands. For example –

– Instead of “We need to improve our customer service.” Try “How would you assess our customer service levels today?” “How is our service impacting our customer retention?”

– Instead of “You know, if you don’t get a job this summer, we are not paying you an allowance.” Try “What ideas do you have for what you’d like to do this summer?” or “I’m interested to hear about how your job search is going. What are you looking into?”

– Instead of “I’m fed up with your anger”. Try “When you get angry, how do you think it affects your relationships with the people closest to you?”

The summary of the last chapter is powerful. It points out that a great communicator would –

  • instead of telling, ask thought-provoking questions;
  • instead of being an expert, invite others to contribute expertise and share experience
  • instead of assuming, ask about the meaning of words
  • instead of mandating solutions, solicit solutions from others
  • instead of showing how smart he is, show others how smart they are.

“Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs, therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity”  – Socrates. 469 – 399 B.C.

Ph.D. in Economics with interests in Life Science, Behavioral Science, Health Economics Evaluation and Health Technology Assessment. Executive MBA student at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Hong Kong, graduating in 2020.

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