The 7 C's of the Art of Inquiry

Last week’s tip discussed some of the elements of a great question. The ‘how’ of asking questions is just as important as what you’re asking.
Whether your goal is to engage, provoke thought, gather information or inspire new insights, following the 7 C’s will help you get the response you are looking for.

  1. Cultivate the habit of inquiry. The more expertise and experience you’ve gained in your field, the greater the tendency is to feel that you’re expected to have all the answers. Many leaders have been conditioned to “tell”, and it takes effort to build the habit of inquiry and remember to “ask” instead.
  2. Adopt a Curious mindset. Incorporating questions into your regular practice is not meant to come across as an interview or an interrogation, but a gateway to an open conversation.
  3. Be Conscious of your timing. If someone seems distracted or is focused on a particular issue, he or she may not be receptive to an off-topic question.
  4. Be aware of your Context. The same question can have a very different effect depending on the setting in which it is posed.
  5. Carefully LISTEN without judgement. The best questions are useless if you’re not actively engaged and paying attention to the response.
  6. Go deeper – Clarify using follow-up questions.
  7. Become Comfortable with silence. Training yourself to quietly wait will reward you with a more thoughtful response.

All skills require practice. If you take the time to build the habit of asking great questions using the 7 C’s your relationships will improve, your team will be more engaged and empowered, and you will be a more effective leader.

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