Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Best Way to Get To Know Interesting People

You don’t learn by telling, you learn by asking.

Years ago John Maxwell, the foremost leadership guru, wrote the book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. About a month after the book was published, John interviewed me for a position in the world’s largest leadership development organization. I wasn’t certain what he would ask, but I knew he would have some really good questions! (For his list of questions from the book, see below).

Thankfully, I was offered the position, and I had the chance to lead a remarkable team. There were great question askers everywhere! That opportunity fulfilled my mission! Over a decade earlier I had developed a personal mission statement that included the sentence, “I develop leaders of leaders.” My mission statement has not changed. That is what I do. And one of the most effective ways I’ve learned to do it is by asking creative questions.

You don’t learn by telling, you learn by asking. CLICK TO TWEET

Spoiler Alert!

I’m creating a free e-book entitled 50 Creative Questions: How to Lead Interesting Conversations & Make More Friends! It will be sent to all those who sign up for LeaderTribe. You’ll receive a copy soon.

Research reveals that only telling is a lousy way to lead another human being. Why? Because the person doesn’t get to develop, learn, risk, fail, and try again. The person isn’t forced to think. If all you are doing is telling, your people won’t grow into better leaders. That’s tragic. Ask often. Eyes will be opened—yours and theirs!

How about a quick example? If I said, “You need to become a lifelong learner,” how would you feel? Think about that for a second.

You might agree, you might disagree, or you might be offended. (“Who does this guy think he is telling me what I need to do?”).

Let’s try it again. This time, I’m asking: “Out of all the interesting opportunities that you have had, what do you enjoy learning about the most?”...“How did you recognize your hunger for learning?”...“Are you planning to be a lifelong learner and to keep growing in that area?”

Now, how did that feel? I bet that it felt better, more caring, like a friend who wanted to get to know your heart. Creative questions do that, ask them!

BOTTOM LINE: When you ask, you learn and you grow. Learning to ask insightful and creative questions is one of the greatest people skills that you can develop. Your growth and your opportunities always multiply when you “mine for gold” in the hearts of others. You do that by asking great questions.

From John Maxwell’s book:

  • What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
  • What are you learning now?
  • How has failure shaped your life?
  • Who do you know that I should know?
  • What have you read that I should read?
  • What have you done that I should do?
  • How can I add value to you?

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