What’s Your Next Question?

The most important quality of an interesting and entertaining conversation is good listening.

Remember Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, where, in 1936, he taught the value of being a good listener? What he wrote about way back then holds true today, perhaps more so.

I’m sure we all know people (and have been that person ourselves!), who think talking is the best way to carry on a lively interchange. But, that’s only the half of it!

If asked today about satisfying conversation, people complain mostly that they didn’t get asked enough questions during conversations they had. This leads us to the second most important quality after attentive listening in meaningful connections which is asking great questions after you’ve paid attention and listened.

If we spent more time trying to be interested instead of trying to be interesting, the quality of our conversations and, thus, our connections, would improve significantly. And, what comes with better connections? Yes, a greater sense of well-being and happiness for all the parties involved!

Meaty questions go beyond merely exchanging information. Questions that probe and that show true interest in the answer or the answer-er show your true desire to connect and enhance the relationship … even if just for that moment. The speaker sees your interest when you ask questions. The speaker feels your interest and desire to know more via your questions.

Flip the script and recall how it feels during any conversation when your words fall flat and when you can tell the listener is distracted or not interested or is thinking of their response or rebuttal. You know it feels impersonal and not satisfying. Asking questions is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in any interaction.

One Singular Standout Question

Ever been in a fun conversation and come up blank with an honest question to ask, regardless of the subject? An excellent question that will propel the conversation forward and show your interest could be:

What about this matters most to you?

And then listen to the answer.

Perhaps you’re not in the habit of asking questions. Perhaps you’re thinking of your answer while the other person is still sharing theirs. This is a rude habit that can be changed. Questioning is a skill that can be practiced and perfected. But you can’t improve if listening isn’t good and/or you don’t ever try to ask questions.

A satisfying conversation is a dance that requires the parties to be in sync with their listening and questioning skills. Efforts to improve your abilities are worth it!

More Questions

I started this piece with a question, so let me end with a few final questions:

What questions do you wish people asked you?

What’s one question that you ask most frequently?

And, finally, what are you willing to do to improve your communications?