What if someone asked you a question that could change your life? Several years ago, I attended a seminar by the business philosopher, Jim Rohn. He referred to a book that his mentor had recommended, a book which ultimately changed his life. His mentor said, “I’m going to recommend this book to you; but if you don’t read it, it won’t help you. What if this book could change your life, but you never bothered to read it?” Now that’s a powerful question.
This article is not about the book which ultimately changed Jim Rohn’s life (The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason), but about the value of asking powerful questions. Having spent most of my professional life in sales, I am used to asking questions which lead to uncovering client needs. I have observed that many sales people are good talkers; they tend to talk and talk until the client gives in and (hopefully) says yes—maybe just to get them to stop talking. But a true professional, whether in sales or otherwise, would be wise to learn the power of asking powerful questions. Without asking the right question, our relationships, both personal and professional, may remain at a casual level.
As a business consultant, I want to recommend an excellent book on this topic: Power Questions by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas. Power Questions can immediately help you deepen your relationships and connect with people more rapidly than you ever thought possible. It shows you how to use thought-provoking questions to engage people and uncover their most pressing issues. It also gives you the tools to get inside the heart and mind of anyone you meet. Using 35 real-life stories, it illustrates how each power question was used and the impact it had. Power Questions teaches you how to transform your daily conversations through powerful, life-changing questions that anyone can master.
One of the most compelling questions of the book comes from Chapter 17 — “Can you tell me more?” These five words encourage the person addressed to share more and go deeper, which keeps the other person from talking too much. The chapter shares the following anecdote: A woman has dinner within one month with two great rival British statesmen of the nineteenth century, Gladstone and Disraeli. Both have been Prime Minister of their country. When asked to compare the two men she says, “After my dinner with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in all of England.” When her friends ask about her second evening out, she replies, “After my dinner with Mr. Disraeli, I felt as though I were the cleverest woman in all of England!”
When you make the conversation all about you, others may think you are clever, but you are not likely to build their trust. You will not learn about them, and you will squander an opportunity to build the foundation for a rich, long-term relationship.
If you want to have an impact on your clients, customers, associates, and family, learn to ask the right questions. If reading Power Questions could change your life, would you buy it and read it?