To Get the Story You Have to Ask Questions
We are all good at telling a story, especially our own story. We are not as good at actively listening to others tell a story. This is true even when we are being paid to listen.
This is why it is important to remember how important it is to listen, which also means asking questions, especially the right questions. What the right questions are depends on the situation.
If it is in a personal setting, you should view the person across from you as wearing a hat that says “make me interesting.” If it is in a business setting, you need to look at the person across from you and visualize them wearing a hat that says “I have an important story to tell you.”
For instance, as an attorney, the story and facts I am learning from a client, especially a new client, are integral to my ability to be able to properly advise and represent their interests. If I don’t ask the right questions or actively listen, I will miss important facts I need to do my job, and to do the best job for the client. These types of issues exist no matter what your line of work or profession is.
The next time you are dealing with someone new - whether a client, a sales opportunity, interviewing a new hire, or meeting someone personally - make sure you ask more questions than they do, and let them talk more than you do. Actively listen so that you can ask necessary follow-up questions and see where it gets you. My guess is it will lead to better business and personal relationships, and, in business, it will help you make sure you have the information you need to do your job.
As always, this post and others can be found on my blog, BusinessLawGuy'sBlog .
About the author: Neal Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk . He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation, workouts and bankruptcy litigation. Neal can be reached at 602.248.1000.