The Art of Speaking  

Communicate like a leader

By Wade Paterson

There’s a famous Voltaire quote you’ve likely heard at some point in your life:

“Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers.”

This quote effectively describes one of the most important communication tips for leaders, as well as those who aspire to be in a leadership position in the future: Ask questions.

Think about the last time you were involved in a conversation where the other person only spoke about him/herself and didn’t ask you any questions. I’m guessing it likely wasn’t a very enjoyable experience.

Conversations are more enjoyable when the other person is genuinely interested in you and what you have to say. The problem is, too often, people are only thinking about what they are going to say to contribute to a conversation. It’s a rare skill to really hone in on what the other person is saying with the purpose of asking follow-up questions and learning more about what they are saying.

Harvard Research Proves This

In 2017, there was a Harvard Research study that sought out to prove those who ask questions are more liked by their conversation partners than people who don’t ask questions.

The study — called “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Question-Asking Increases Liking” — found when people ask questions, “they are perceived as higher in responsiveness: an interpersonal construct that captures listening, understanding, validation and care.”

This research even included a speed dating element and those who asked more questions (especially follow-up questions) were found to be more likely to land a second date than those who asked fewer questions.

(I’m guessing when you started reading this column on communication tips for leaders, you didn’t expect to also receive dating advice… but you’re welcome.)

What This Means for Leaders

The next time you have a conversation with your employees, make a point of listening intently to what they have to say and plan to ask follow-up questions. One way you can gamify this is by challenging yourself to ask more questions than the other person in every conversation you’re in. By asking questions — and listening intently — the other person will feel more comfortable talking to you.

A final piece of advice is to not always revolve the conversation around work. While work-related topics will inevitably be part of the majority of conversations, leaders should still know their employees on a personal level in order to strengthen the relationships and culture in the office.

If you’re interested in learning more about being an impactful communicator, head over to my YouTube channel.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Wade Paterson is an award-winning Toastmaster who is passionate about Impactful Communication.

His columns and accompanying YouTube videos are focused on helping others become more confident public speakers and communicators.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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