If you desire to assert something, how do you typically do so? Often our first action when we have (what we think is) a good idea is to bestow our grand great idea upon the world using a bold and clear statement. But is this the best way? Is there another way we could express the idea that could make our hearers more likely to accept and appreciate it?
Passively Accepting vs. Actively Listening
Though it can be a difficult habit to adopt, the use of questions to communicate ideas can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. You see, when you make a statement, your listener is put in a position of passively listening. They may or may not have the same set of beliefs and assumptions as you, and they may or may not have a similar communication style as you. With a different set of beliefs and a different set of assumptions, how likely do you think it is that they’ll respond to your ideas by thinking, “yeah, that’s exactly how I would have said it, that’s a perfect idea!”
Conversely, imagine that instead of stating your idea or position as a concrete fact, you pose it as a question. For example, which of the following ways of expressing an idea do you find more appealing?
- If you want to be healthy, you have to eat lots of fruits and vegetables
- Do you think adding a few fruits and vegetables to your diet would benefit your health?
Who Wants to Disagree With Himself?
Both statements present the same general idea, but the former creates a rough, antagonistic feeling while the latter comes across as friendly and helpful. The statement begs the listener to disagree or find an area of inconsistency, while the question invites the listener to think and answer. Better still than that, once the listener has answered; he’ll tend to have more buy-in to the statement since it came from him! Wouldn’t it be something, disagreeing with yourself! 🙂
Where Could This Take You?
This practice isn’t difficult to understand, and there is great value of communicating this way. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll struggle to keep this in the forefront of your mind and adopt the habit. How easy it is to revert to statements when the point could be so much better made through questions. But, can you improve a little tomorrow over where you were today? If you can do that once, can you do it again? And again? By improving a little each day, where do you think you’ll end up? I look forward to seeing you there!