Rule 36: Ask Questions

Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Babatunde  Raji Fashola (SAN)
The object of the
exercise is to become:
·                
Popular
·                
Promotable
·                
Successful
·                
Thoroughly
nice
·                
Efficient

One
of the easiest ways to do this is to learn and practice the habit of asking
questions.  What sort of questions?  Well, that depends, obviously on the situation.  For instance in Rule 33: Compliment people sincerely, we used a
couple of examples where the follow-up question is useful – ‘I really liked your presentation. 
I thought you were incredibly calm. 
How do you avoid shaking?’
  Or
– ‘I like your new method of handling
invoices.  What gave you the idea?’
Asking
questions shows that you have paid attention, care, are interested, are
thoughtful; are considerate and intelligent and creative.  Stupid people don’t ask questions.  Bored people don’t ask questions.  Lazy people don’t ask questions.  Any questions?

“Asking questions
shows that you have paid attention, care, are interested, are thoughtful; are
considerate and intelligent and creative. 
Stupid people don’t ask questions. 
Bored people don’t ask questions. 
Lazy people don’t ask questions”

Belligerent
people tend to make statements – ‘I don’t
like that idea, it’s
unworkable’.  Rules Players ask questions; they
might mean the same thing but they handle it differently – ‘I think I need more information about this idea.  How do you see it working?  Will dispatch be able to handle the increase
in orders?  Can we provide enough extra
staff to cover?  Maybe we all need to go
away and think about this one, what does everyone else think?’ 
You haven’t said the idea stinks but they
know you think that, but they also think you’re a thoroughly nice person – you
haven’t shot them down in flames in front of their colleagues, but you have
given them enough rope to hang themselves if they want to. And you’ve given
them a get out if they choose to take it – go away and think about it a bit
more means let’s not hear about this again, but it’s a terribly diplomatic way
of saying so.
Asking
questions is a very nice thing to do in a general way.  It shows you are interested in your
colleagues.  But do make the questions
genuine and sincere, worthwhile and kind.
There’s
very little point in asking: ‘Where on
earth did you get that coat?  You can’t
think it suits you, surely?’
Much better not to dwell on the coat if it
really is horrid.  Ask instead about the
work: 
‘How come you can always do this invoicing so quickly? Do you have some
secret the rest of us don’t have?’


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As
in the case of standing up for someone – even if they are loathsome there will
always be some good point about them, no one is totally wicked – so too with
questions. There will always be some aspect of someone’s work that you could
ask about or their hobbies or social life or family.  Even if it’s a simple: ‘How’s the kids?’ it cuts the ice and makes you nice.  It opens up dialogue, generates pleasantness
and creates warmth amongst people who have to work together every day.
(Excerpts from THE
RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to use ‘please’ and ‘thank
you’ from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)













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