Last week I took a day out of the office and attended the CIPR Strategic PR Management course held at their HQ in London. A day out of the office always feels like a day lost out of the working week but by 4.30 I needed no persuading that it was a day really well spent – with a really nice bunch of fellow PR people.
We covered loads of good stuff but the most valuable to me was the focus on the importance of asking open questions (and the value of asking such questions was evident throughout many of the topics we discussed), giving good briefings and delegating effectively, motivating and developing your team and managing relationships.
Open questions are general rather than specific; they enable people to decide how they should be answered and encourage them to talk freely.
- How do you feel things have been going?
- How do you feel about that?
- Tell me, why do you think that happened?
- Can I give you any more information to help you with that?
Open questions probe and dig deeper for information, they also give people around you a chance to ask about things we haven’t said. All too often I know I finish a briefing meeting with the phrase ‘have you understood that?’ or ‘was all of that clear?’. Unlikely to directly criticise you, people often nod and smile that all is well and on with the task they go – an open question changes this.
Now this might all sound a bit cuddly and when you are really busy with a reactive PR issue or just really busy (because all PR people are), who really has the time to be checking on how the members of your team are feeling? Not many of us!
But listening to the real life examples from my fellow delegates and some (slightly awkward to begin with, actually quite fun and useful in the end) role play it was evident that just thinking about how asking these sorts questions would positively change your approach to your everyday interaction with the team around you.
So today is another day with another set of challenges to overcome – how do you feel about that?