My manager clients often come to me about engaging their employees in useful discussions. They particularly want to learn to ask good questions.
One told me he sincerely wants to have helpful one-on-one discussions with his employees. His challenge was asking too many yes/no questions. He said when he gets one-word answers, “I get stuck.” His excellent question was, “How do I transform my questions to get more response?’
MORE HERE: Make the most of one-on-one discussions.
We talked about the fantabulous “blinking word technique.” It can be used in so many situations. [Originally from the book, “Love ’em or Lose ’em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Andy Robinson of Careerealism does a great job of giving another example here.]
The “blinking word technique” is straightforward. I’m just going to launch into an example. If you need more, follow the references above.
My client and I quickly went through this scenario. He’s trying to get to know an employee better in a one-on-one discussion.
Boss: “How are you liking your assignment?”
‘EE: “It’s good.” (pretend this word is blinking)
Boss: “What parts do you find good?”
‘EE: “Well, I like the routine.” (blinking)
Boss: “When you say routine, can you give me an example?”
‘EE: “Well, I like it that I know what to expect from day to day. I pretty much know what I’m going to do throughout the day. It has a flow. I don’t like surprises, so this job suits me.”
Now you’ve learned something helpful. If you thought this employee needed more challenge or variety, you might want to think again. If you want to change something, think about how you would introduce that, at a minimum.
Even well-meaning and cooperative employees can be at a loss for words under these circumstances. Make it easy for them. Keep at it until you find a question they can answer meaningfully.
Work with me: I help managers of people learn to master this type of communication. The “blinking word” is just one technique that can transform interactions with employees, peers, your supervisor, and even meeting behavior. Contact me for a consultation if you are curious to explore working together. Learn more here.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clipart