Those 3 questions are all great! Especially the first.
In the past my response would have been about how difficult I find it to remember questions like that when talking to a prospect.
Now I think it’s not a question of remembering, but having the right stance or mindset. If I’m trying to explore the entire situation with the prospect’s interests in mind, those are the kinds of questions that might come to mind. No memorisation needed, just responding to the prospect in front of me.
They are the crib sheet I need!
Great listening leads to great questions.
But, you can’t listen ‘greatly’ if you’re waiting to speak, or waiting to ask smart questions.
Great listening starts with your attitude. Giving attention. Sustaining interest. Inviting the client’s thoughts.
It takes you into a different space … where great questions come to you, based on what you see, hear, and feel.
Not by rote, or some list of 25 smart consulting questions.
Things that might distract us from listening better.
What things? I’m glad you asked. Here’s my cringe list. Things that help us be good consultants … and prevent use doing our best listening.
- Jumping in to solve the problem … because we have a need to appear smart.
- Recognising patterns … because we want to make sense and create a signal from the noise.
- Gathering data, ordering it, sorting into groups … because we have a need to bring order to chaos.
- Wanting to diagnose, to understand, to fix … because we want to work things out.
- Telling stories (a lot) … because we think our examples and personal experiences help others ‘get it’.
- Uncovering blind spots and offering perspectives … because we want clients to have valuable insights, which validate our engagement.
- Facilitating decisions and establishing accountability … because we want to fulfil a role that some clients expect.
[My cringe list was inspired while reading Nancy Kline’s book – The promise that changes everything. I won’t interrupt you.]
Notice, while these may all serve the client, they are predominantly about us and our needs.
Let me repeat. These things make us good consultants … but they are distractions from great listening.
A mini-mission for you.
- Write down a distracted listening / good consulting list. Copy the one above if you like it.
- This week, after each meeting, evaluate your performance. Were there times when you might have switched into attentive listener mode? Were there times when you might have let great questions surface … effortlessly?
- Don’t judge yourself. Notice, learn, and modify if you find something you’d like to change.
Let me know how you get on.