In many environments, especially business, we have a tendency to concentrate so much on common courtesy, we put common sense on the back burner. It is always important to show skill and tact when asking questions in business situations, but over-doing it can make it difficult for people to know exactly what you are trying to say. Most people prefer to be asked direct, specific questions so they are not confused or receiving contradicting instructions. An article recently written by Jas Singh, Director of Iopa Solutions, gives the following reasons why great leaders ask direct questions.
1. It saves time
As much as we want to, we cannot create more time. Everyone’s time in the workplace is precious, and it’s important not to waste it. Back-and-forth proposals, lengthy meetings, and drawn-out interviews are often culprits of wasted time. The good news is, this is easily fixed. Before making time in your schedule for any of these items, create a specific agenda and a list of direct questions. This will help you avoid getting off track or missing any key points you may have to regroup for again later.
2. It creates focus
When you ask direct questions, it reveals to your employees what is really important. It is easy for the impact of key points to be lost in a long meeting, but when leaders focus on what is really important, employees are often more engaged, and even happier. Singh gives the following examples: “Are we 100% going to close this deal by deadline? How much more money do you want for this promotion? What exactly do you need me to do?” Create focus by asking these types of questions.
3. It builds trust, eventually
While being direct can often come across as being rude, good teamwork depends on transparent, honest, and open communication. When leaders employ this strategy, they must be willing to answer direct questions themselves. We have all made a connection with someone we feel we can talk to anything about, and this ‘anything’ often means feeling comfortable asking direct questions without the fear of criticism or judgement.
Singh says, “Great leaders understand that the ability to ask each other direct questions is the sign of a secure two-way relationship.”
Great leaders know how to be tactful in their engagements with others, while simultaneously being direct. Could you be more direct with your employees? If so, try the previous strategies and see how your team responds.