Below are a number of language patterns for you to review and implement where you feel appropriate. The statements and questions are designed to gather information, boost understanding, clarity, and use a healthy dose of empathy too so the person you are asking the question doesn’t feel interrogated.
Remember, asking a question is often more effective, and better received than a demand, command, instruction or, apparent suggestion/recommendation. You can’t just ask questions all the time, these questions though can soften the dialogue, promote personal ownership, boost collaboration and develop more positive outcomes, often with fewer bumps along the way. Your empathy will be boosted and your may also reduce the emotional dependency/reliance some clients may have on you.
I’d like to understand your thoughts on this.
You believe this to be the best decision because….?
Just so I’m clear in my own mind, please will you just clarify for me….why/how/when…?
May I check that I’ve fully understood your point/recommendation/concern? (Repeat back to them) then ask ‘Is there anything I missed or have I understood you correctly?’
It might be useful if…/Might it be useful if…?
What’s the most important value I can bring to this meeting today?….Why is this most important to you?
Is there an alternative option/solution that we may not have identified yet?
What is your most important outcome from this meeting/project/consultation?
What specific information would it be valuable for me to share with you?
May I check what you mean when you say (…….)?
May I just check my understanding of……with you just so I can guide you accurately?
Just so I have it clear in my own mind, may I check with you…what’s your outcome here? What do you want to avoid happening if possible?
May I just ask…
REMEMBER, gather information ahead of proposing a way forward, and ask a clarifying question at the end such as …what are your thoughts?
Even if these pointers feel a little alien at present, give them a try at the appropriate time and see how your dialogue changes, and changes positively.