Questions are a crucial way to involve others when you’re having important conversations — whether it’s an influence conversation with a decision maker, a performance adjustment conversation with a direct report, or an informal status update chat with your manager. But there’s a wrong way to ask questions, especially for extroverts.
Here are 2 common mistakes extroverts make when asking questions — and what to do instead.
1. Asking a question and offering possible answers… instead of asking a question and waiting for the other person to answer. In this example, Max is at the start of a conversation with Priya, one of his directs who came to him with an issue about not getting crucial project info from a member of another team. Max knows how to involve his directs by asking good questions, so he thinks he’s right on the mark when he launches in with this: “You mentioned you’re not getting the project info and updates from Alex when you need them. What do you think is going on? He’s probably holding back because he doesn’t have the info. Or it could be because he doesn’t want to work with our team. Actually, it could just be that he’s lazy. Here’s what you should do…”
Max just shut communication down cold. He started off well with the general statement about the issue, and involving Priya by asking what she thinks is going on. But it went downhill when he inserted his own potential answers to the question, and sucked the energy out of the conversation.
2. Asking too many questions at once. “You mentioned you’re not getting the project info and updates from Alex when you need them. What do you think is going on? How often is this happening? Does he just do this to you, or is this more widespread among the team?”
Again, great start, but by not waiting for Priya to answer the first question, Max closed down the conversation. That was likely not his intention — in fact, frequently extroverts are expressing interest and trying to connect at times like this, even though the effect may be the opposite.
Extroverts and Enthusiasm
Similar to interrupting, when extroverts ask questions and don’t wait for the other person to answer, they’re not usually intending to shut others down or not listen to them. They’re often eager to hear what the other has to say. But because their thoughts are running a mile a minute and they’re trying to keep up with themselves, it all comes pouring out. If you are an extrovert who does this, don’t give yourself a bad rap — just be aware that you risk being seen as someone who is more interested in yourself than you are in the other person.
What to Do Instead
Ask one question. Then stop speaking. Wait for the other person’s response. Don’t offer any answers yourself, and don’t ask any additional questions until after the other person has finished what they have to say.
And then just watch and listen as the conversation truly opens up, quite possibly with comments and answers you never thought of.
Question: Do you think there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask questions? Do you have any tips to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com/Nate Widick