Have you ever been amazed by the torrent of ideas unleashed by a well framed question?

It seems that the brain thinks and responds best in the presence of a question.

Here red10s Kirsten Campbell talks about types of questions and explains how Seeking Information can transform communication.

Asking questions – the starting point in the shift to GREEN communication behaviours

When we start working with individuals and teams, we see that in group discussion, the majority of communication behaviours are what Professor Neil Rackham describes as BLUE in his Behavioural Analysis Framework.

These are behaviours in which people are focused on themselves and what they think or know and seek to convey this to others.

For more effective communication, we encourage our clients to “Go GREEN”. In other words, to focus on others and try to learn about and understand what they think or know using a suite of GREEN behaviours.

We recommend starting with the entry level GREENs, one of which is “Seeking Information”, or more simply – asking questions. (To learn more about the other entry level green, follow this link to Bringing In.

Closed questions

  • Have you got any questions?
  • Are there any views on this?

These are likely to elicit a yes or no response and often times no response at all.

Be mindful of this and use when you really just need to get the data and no more.

If you are seeking to get more response and engagement, go for one of these instead…

Open questions

  • What do you think about this?
  • Why do you think we are seeing these results?

These are the 5Ws and 1H of “What, Why, When, How, Where, Who” of Kipling’s famous poem.

We recommend posing the question, maybe even repeat it then tune your brain to receive mood and listen.

Outcome focused questions

  • What would be your top 3 priorities to ensure you achieve your target his month?

These are great for fast tracking people’s attention to where it needs to go.

Can of worms questions

  • What are all your thoughts on where we went wrong?

Well how long have you got?!?!

So a watch out with these, unless you specifically want to do you a review for the purposes of understanding what went wrong or continuous improvement then best direct the attention of question in the direction you DO want to go in as in the outcome focused question above.

Rhetorical questions

  • So I’m wondering where we might start?
  • My first thought is….

If there is no time given for the audience to respond, this would technically be a BLUE behaviour. However, the question washing over the brains of the audience is still likely to start generating responses in their heads. You would need to tease out these responses for a rhetorical question to be truly GREEN.

Incisive questions

  • If you knew that you are the best person for the role, what would do you next?

These questions cut through limiting assumptions that are holding someone back from achieving their goals and can be really powerful.

It is the unusual and even grammatically incorrect structuring of these questions that empower people to look for compelling reasons to move towards what they desire.

Transforming communication

In order for asking questions to have the best impact, you’ll want to move into listening mode once you have asked your question.

This seems to be a radical act for most people.  It’s about the desire to be truly interested in what other’s think, and where they will go with their thinking. It is a different experience from being focused on what you want and need to say.

Be prepared for information coming to you that maybe you didn’t expect and even a sense of losing control of the conversation because you are making way for others to get involved.

Stick with it though as the rewards will be worth it once you get through the awkward phase of developing any new skill. There is a catalytic impact that questions have that we just don’t get in response to Giving Information. If you want people to be thinking at their best and for themselves, going GREEN is your friend!

Have a go at building your skills in Seeking Information and see what comes back – and be sure to let us know what you notice.

Stick with it though as the rewards will be worth it once you get through the awkward phase of developing any new skill. There is a catalytic impact that questions have that we just don’t get in response to Giving Information. If you want people to be thinking at their best and for themselves, going GREEN is your friend!

Have a go at building your skills in Seeking Information and see what comes back – and be sure to let us know what you notice.