3 Steps to Building a Better Relationship – Step Two

Step two – ask the right questions.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to communicate with this person and what motivates them, what’s next? It’s important to ask the right questions. This is important when meeting a new potential client, new employee or even new date. Once again, whenever possible it’s important that these questions and conversations happen in person or over the phone rather than via email or text. With the lack of body language and assumed tones from text only, messages constantly get confused. So what questions are the right questions?

For starters, open ended questions. By definition, an open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings. It is the opposite of a closed-ended question, which encourages a short or single-word answer. What do those questions look like? They usually start with What, How, Why and In what way?

For a client – What opportunities do you see coming up in the next few years?

For a new employee – How have you handled this type of situation in the past?

For a new date – what do you do in your spare time?

If you want to know more, keep the open ended questions flowing. Change anything else, which provides for an easy yes or no answer to “what else” to get people thinking. For more examples, check out this blog by Brett and Kate McKay. 

Now that you have some ideas on the right questions to ask, ensure you listen. Listen, not for your chance to speak, but instead for your chance to understand. To understand their thoughts, their opinions, their perspectives. Go  back to step one and put yourself in their shoes. Need help listening? Practice the art of improv with the “yes, and” game. In the words of Epictetus “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Check back in next month for the final step in building relationships.