Are you a coach or consultant?
Or maybe you are involved in another role which requires you to spend time helping colleagues or clients.
The easy thing to do, and a common mistake, is to jump in and try to help immediately by giving advice.
Or posing questions which are really pieces of advice masquerading as questions eg have you considered x, y, z?
The bottom line, though, is that in order to help them you need to figure out, and let them recognise, what their problem or issue is.
To do this you need to ask questions.
Not just any old questions.
The questions you ask are absolutely critical.
Have you given much thought to the most effective, useful, powerful questions to ask?
In this piece I am going to share what I consider to be the most effective questions – there are only 3.
The rest is window dressing.
These are the questions I use myself in my law practice when I meet clients or prospects.
I didn’t learn them in law school, though.
I use the exact same questions when I am consulting with small business owners and start ups and entrepreneurs.
You could waste a lot of time asking the wrong questions.
And there is a multitude of questions you could ask.
Questions beginning with who, what, why, how, when, which etc.
The three most important questions begin with the same word.
Let me explain.
There are three questions you need to ask.
The first you will find on Facebook.
This question has been an integral part of Facebook’s growth into a worldwide phenomenon.
Take a look at the box at the top of your Facebook page, the one that invites you to comment or share something or update your status.
There’s a question in that box to encourage you to do that. It’s the question that Facebook has used, save for one short period, from the early days.
It still uses it today.
The question is:
This gives your client the opportunity to open up and tell you what the issue(s) is.
But it’s almost certain that what they tell you will not be the real problem, or if it is a real problem it will not be the only one.
Or the most important.
It’s almost certainly something that concerns them, but may not be the real crux of the matter.
The second question is designed to deal with this.
The question is:
This is only a short one, but it’s essential and critical.
Because it will almost certainly get you to the real concern, especially if What’s on your mind has not elicited the real meat of the problem.
This question is a natural follow on from the other two, because now you know exactly what the real issues are.
Question 1: What’s on your mind?
Question 2: And what else?
The third question is:
Resist the temptation to immediately jump in with advice.
Ask these 3 questions.
Then you both know exactly what the issues are, and what each of you have to do.
Terry Gorry is an Irish solicitor (lawyer), entrepreneur and small business owner since 1986. He specialises in small business, employment, and property law in Ireland.
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