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#249: Asking Questions

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 25, 2010
Updated: Friday, February 26, 2010
When asking questions of a client or prospect, how you word the inquiry gets very different responses. Take a simple question to determine whether or not your recommendation is a) in fact, feasible, b) will meet with resistance or receptivity, or c) requires additional input from staff.

Consider the different wayts to phrase your questions:
  • "Is this something you can do?" (This wording is looking for the client’s approval and encourages their judgment on its feasibility).
  • "What are the challenges in doing this?" (This wording basically assumes that the approach you are discussing is the right one, but provides the client with an opportunity to voice concerns. It might reveal both the real and political issues surrounding your approach).
  • "What are the best approaches for doing this?" (This makes the assumption that your approach is, in fact, correct. It asks for suggestions on a specific methodology or process for accomplishing the task).
  • "Who should be responsible for managing this effort?" (This makes the assumption that your approach is correct, and you already have a specific methodology or process for accomplishing the task. This might help to uncover previously unknown organizational issues, if any).
Tip: Think about who to ask first, what to ask, how to ask, when to ask, and most importantly, why you are asking. Asking the right question will help you to serve your clients more effectively. Nobody said consulting was easy, but it is fun and challenging.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  consulting process 

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