(This is the first in a five-part series on the basic principles of questioning and listening. All links are at the bottom of this post.)
Successful research in advance of brainstorming requires developing proper questioning, either:
- Mental questions which you use to identify, analyse and judge the information you are gathering, or
- Verbal questions which you might use in an interview with a subject matter expert.
As well, the quality of questions can have a tremendous impact on developing ideas, but no more so than the third element – listening.
The first conversation with a key audience is important for a variety of reasons, because it …
- Creates a good first impression, but asking insightful questions and demonstrating good listening skills.
- Prepares the stage for ongoing dialogue. It not only means the respondent will give you quality answers, but it means continued building of trust. That’s not just between the two of you, but potentially with other people as the respondent opens their network to you.
- Allows you to better under the issues and opportunities.
- Gives you a chance to listen for what the respondent says, doesn’t say, or perhaps doesn’t know or doesn’t want to share.
- Provides you the opportunity to test or float some general tactical ideas.
Don’t Confuse Questioning and Brainstorming
However, the first conversation should not be thought of as a chance to ‘show off.’ Why?
- It’s too soon to begin suggesting solutions. You haven’t shown you’ve done due diligence.
- You create a impression that you prefer to be right, more than you’re interested in the respondent.
- Trying to look smart suggests an air of arrogance, where the proper emotions at a questioning are genuineness, openness and curiosity.
There are the three basic principles of questioning stretched over five posts.
- Questioning Strategy – What are the questions to ask?
- Questioning Styles – What type of questions to ask?
- Listening – What are the answers telling us, or not telling us?
- Listening Techniques – How to demonstrate listening?
(Note: You may also want to check out a newer post I wrote, entitled Listening to Understand vs. Listening to Reply.)