Sometimes you might get frustrated with a client because you had to ask the same question multiple times. There are several reasons this might happen — among them might be that the client may not have responded to your query at all, perhaps they misunderstood the question, or maybe their response was unclear or undefined.
Have you ever received an answer to a question which immediately generated three more questions that needed answering?
How about asking an alternate of choice question and getting back an answer that wasn’t among the options? (You ask if they prefer A or B and they respond with C.)
Problematic answers are a result of asking problematic questions
If you ask the question once and get an answer that doesn’t help you — it won’t serve much purpose to ask the exact same question again and again. The client will give you the exact same answer over and over, and then wonder if you’re daffy or just plain dumb because they already answered that question but you keep asking it again anyway.
If you’re not getting the answers you need, you need to ask questions in other ways
- Rephrase your questions
- Reframe your questions
- Provide examples in your questions
- Clarify the type of answer you need I (just need a Yes or a No, please!)
- Use similes or metaphors
- Provide more details (or fewer details!) in your questions
- Use images, screenshots, and mock-ups to illustrate what you need from them
If you’re in sales or consulting or any role where you need to deliver a project that meets a need of your client, your business will live or die based on your ability to draw out accurate answers to your questions.
Many times you need to ask the same questions of many different clients.
If your questions are vital to the success of the project, those are some pretty important questions and it would be wise to prepare an advance list of multiple ways to ask the questions which get you the answers you need.
Mark Twain is credited with saying “Anyone who only knows one way to spell a word lacks imagination“.
I think the same rule applies to asking questions.
If you want to become known as a creative resource, you should know more than one way to ask the same question.