Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ball in Their Court Questioning

PICTURE THIS: you’re chatting with someone you just met.

During a conversational lull, you ask the default question, “So Mike, what do YOU do?”

And all of the sudden, his posture weakens. His eyes avert. And his smile fades.

“Actually, um, I’ve been out of work for the past 8 months, so…”


Well, good thing I brought THAT up! you think.

A few minutes later on your way to the hardware store to purchase a crowbar to pry your foot out of your mouth, something occurs to you.

You made assumptions.

That Mike had a job.
That Mike was defined by his work.
That Mike had a career he enjoyed talking about.

None of which were true.

And as a result, your connection was botched.

SO, THAT’S THE CHALLENGE: avoiding assumptive language.

Being curious, not judgmental.

And your job as an approachable communicator is to ask questions that are specific, yet STILL give someone permission to direct the conversation in manner that makes him most comfortable.

Because your NUMBER ONE GOAL in every conversation is to make the other person feel comfortable as soon as possible.

An effective tool you can use is called Ball in Their Court Questioning.

For example:

Instead of saying, “What do you do?”
You could say, “What keeps you busy all week?”

Instead of saying, “What’s your job there?”
You could say, “What’s your role there?”

Instead of saying, “Did you get hired yet?”
You could say, “What kind of progress have you been making on the job hunt?”

Instead of saying, “Are you actually making a living at this?”
You could say, “How are you moving forward towards your goals?

Ball in Their Court Questioning. (BTCQ, for short.)

And BTCQ is more than just asking open-ended questions.

For someone to engage comfortably with you about topics important to them.

From you looking like an idiot, and from the other person feeling embarrassed.

Framing your conversation with a positive, goal-oriented tone.

And ultimately, when you make these minor changes in your verbiage, you create MAJOR results in your conversations.

So, next time you meet someone new; transform assumptive language into approachable language.

And you’ll never need to use that crowbar again.

How long have you been working in the People Business?

Share your additional thoughts on the nature of this "industry."

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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