Questions: Do They Help Leaders?

in·ter·ro·gate [in-ter-uh-geyt]  verb  – to ask questions of (a person), sometimes to seek answers or information that the person questioned considers personal or secret.

How often do you refer to asking questions of your employees as an interrogation? I know I don’t because to interrogate tends to have a negative connotation and I do not feel that my questioning is negative.

However, as author Bill Stinnett points out in his most recent article on the Leadership Training blog, questioning can cause problems for leaders in actually helping their employee to solve their problem.

There are two primary risks to asking questions at the wrong time. 1) They can divert the person away from the original problem. That is, the person responds to the asker’s question and moves down a sidetrack rather than pursuing the real problem. 2) Inappropriate questioning can communicate unintended messages. The person with the problem may hear, “I don’t trust you to handle this. Just follow my lead and I will rescue you since you are not capable enough to solve this problem on your own.”

So although you may have the best of intentions, questions have a probable chance to sideline the true topic of conversation and the real problem. Next time someone comes to you with a problem, try to listen without questioning their actions or motives. You may hear more than you think.


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