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Ask the right questions: How? Part 1

We have gone through the many types of questions in order to ask the right questions. The why, what, who, when and now this week we are focused on the “how.”  The way you ask the questions depends a lot upon your situation. Who are you asking and what is their preferred method of communication and capacity to provide input or feedback?  This week, we are focused on 2 potential ways that you can try when you want to garner input or feedback from your team or coalition. Next week, we will highlight 3 more.

It’s always a good idea to consider your audience first – and recognize there may be differences. You may need to use multiple methods. One of the teams I am currently part of primarily sends email to collect information. This works for most of the team members; however, one of the co-leaders is terrible with email. If we want to connect with him and get his feedback, we need to send him a text message!

  1. In-person or video chat (one-on-one). If you are getting feedback on a potentially polarizing issue or you are trying to get feedback from someone who is usually less inclined to share their opinion in a group setting, you may want to try an in-person meeting or a video chat in a one-on-one setting. This will allow the person to be more comfortable sharing his opinions and you will have the opportunity to read facial expressions and nonverbal communication cues in his responses.  This is also a good option when you have a new team who is not yet comfortable working together — or if you have a dysfunctional team where there is low levels of trust and you know that individuals will not be honest or transparent if other people are in the room (or on the screen).
  2. In-person or webinar (group). If you are getting feedback related to topics where your team members feel comfortable and are generally agreeable, the group setting can be beneficial.  Also, this is a great place to have a conversation when there are high levels of trust and the group is able to solve problems effectively when working with others on the team.  If members of your team feel comfortable providing their recommendation in a group setting and if you are able to facilitate (or have a facilitator) guide the conversation in an efficient and effective way, the in-person or webinar group meeting is a great option.  Be mindful that you don’t want to always ask a lot of questions or take up a lot of time during these conversations so you can ensure continued participation. Also, stick to your advertised time. If you schedule the meeting for an hour, you should end the meeting in an hour – even if you aren’t finished. If there is particularly high energy and willingness to keep moving forward, you can check in with folks to see if they want to stay. Otherwise, let them know that you can continue the discussion via email and then reconvene at another date for “Part 2.”

And speaking of part 2…please join me next week as we look at 3 other ways we can “Ask the right questions” of our teams or coalitions.

How have you found one-on-one or group meetings effective in garnering input from your teams?

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