Learn what to ask, and more importantly, how to listen


When surrounded by highly successful, high performing people, if you’re minded to learn from their experiences, there are two positions you must take. 1) know how to ask the right question, and 2) develop the ability to be a great listener.

This isn’t intended as an Instagram influencer post. Reality is, I’m grateful to be in a position to socialise, in and out of work with these guys. Relations developed over the years through business, or by being members of the same golf clubs.

Whether you’re in a Board/Exco meeting, or running Assurance over an at-risk challenging programme, perhaps you’re facing off to a business mentor or an elite high performer, what will be important is your ability to ask the right question, in the right way. The true value derived from probing a room or individual will only ever be realised if you know how.

In my experience, there is a fine art to asking the right questions. Ask correctly, you’ll get insightful answers that add value to the questions intended cause. Ask incorrectly, you’ll lose the audience, and fast. Try to find the nuance, the little nugget that gives the responder license to open-up, at times you may even get a transparent reveal that you never expected.

" I rarely buy into the notion that “there are no stupid questions here". There absolutely are. If you’re in a situation where your brain is working and re-working a question before you ask it, I’d suggest to you that’s a good thing. Be clear though, ask it for a value-add purpose, and that purpose should never be about you, ever". Warren Kwei, EA Partner.

Once you’ve asked the question, this is the moment where you need to activate point 2, “develop an ability to be a great listener”. All too often I observe individuals forgetting this point (that’s the tell that the question was about them). If you’ve asked the optimal question, be courteous in allowing the response airtime, listen, hard, and then respond. If you want to learn more about the problem or the opportunity, give the responder a feeling that you’re aligned, that you acknowledge, even appreciate them.

When you get the chance to learn from high performing people, whether that be in business, on the golf course, or in the Board room, first learn the art of asking the right question –  it’s imperative you know what to ask, when, and how.