The single most powerful question you can ask in communication

Guest Post by Mike Irving

I ask lots of questions.  My clients essentially pay me to ask them the questions that they don’t want to be asked in order to find the source of the problems or challenges they are having.

This means that it’s absolutely essential that we understand our communication with each other.

Here’s where my favourite question comes in.

One of the biggest issues in communication is having a misunderstanding.  It’s way too easy to hear something and jump straight over it (make an assumption about what they mean) because you think you know what the person was saying.

My favorite question to ask is:

“When you say (Fill In The Blank), what do you mean?”

The blank that you fill in is a word for word duplicate of what they said that you are uncertain about.

Here’s an example:

Bill:  ‘I’m feeling really cold’

Cathy (who thinks it’s warm in the room):  “When you say ‘I’m feeling really cold’ what do you mean?”

This is a pretty simple example.  The key to this question is to use it whenever you feel unsure of what someone has said to you.

You will be amazed at what this question brings out in conversations.

If you’ve found this helpful, the best thanks you can give me is to share the love.



Mike Irving


Mike Irving is ​CEO and founder of Advanced Business Abilities. He and his team help business owners ​and individuals ​reclaim their personal ​freedom and build winning teams through leadership skills workshops and 1-on-1 coaching.


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