It is easy to get lost in a crowd. Especially when it is a loud crowd where everyone wants to make themselves heard. In business communication, asking the right question at the right time can sometimes be even more important than having the right answer at the right time. A good question can show that you are following along, that you are thinking ahead about the matter at hand, suggesting potential problems so as to find solutions, or that you simply are not afraid to ask for clarity.
However, what happens when your question doesn’t register with your listeners? When speaking to people in a language we hesitate to use, it is not uncommon that we end up struggling, or wanting to ask questions. We don’t know how to, and when we do, they might get covered up by some of the more enthusiastic speakers in the groups. To tackle this, we at LearnEd decided to formulate a strategy. This strategy was a part of our recent free webinar “Must Use Phrases to Move your Communication from Skill to Art”. When asking questions, if you smartly append a phrase to it, it establishes that you have a question for the listeners.
“I was wondering if…”
In a relatively casual sentence or situation, when you begin a question with this phrase, it sets the stage for the question that is to follow. When a listener hears this phrase, they automatically know that you are about make an inquiry or a suggestion. This means that your listener will be better programmed to receive your question and won’t let your query get sidetracked. Generally, you could use this phrase when asking something of a superior or a colleague.
“I was wondering if I could use the conference room this afternoon at 2 PM” is an example of the same.
2. “Let me ask you this…”
This is a more formal version of the above phrase. A question that is preceded by this phrase is clearly marked as important. It also ensures that the listener knows that a small demand or inquiry is to be made of them in the next few sentences. It lends an air of importance to the moment without making it feel like an interrogation. You could use this sentence when speaking to a subordinate at work.
The next time you ask a junior if the could rephrase their idea in a clearer way, or if they would explain their project’s technicalities, you should give this phrase a try!
The team at LearnEd strongly believes that questions are the engine to any conversation. Personally, when I need to ask something in a busy conversation, I just begin my sentence with the word “question!”, and then follow it up. However, not all situations and setups allow for this casual break, and these two phrases have definitely been bookmarked in my language for the next such situation.
For more such tips, keep following the LearnEd blog and social pages, and we shall be announcing our next free webinars and courses soon. Stay sharp, keep asking questions!