Leadership on a Napkin

Lesson 2:
Know the difference between Statements and Questions

If you want your meetings to take less time, move faster and be much more productive and satisfying follow this seemingly simple rule – “Answer Questions” and “Acknowledge Statements”.

In all the meetings I have attended over the years in many companies I have seen that people often “Answer Statements” and “Acknowledge Questions”.

People seem to not know the difference between statements and questions.

I frequently hear people say “I’d like to ask a question” and then they go on and on expressing their opinion with no question in sight.In many cases when a clear question is asked I hear others talk for in length without ever answering the question.

I also often see people responding to someone else’s opinion when no question was asked and when their opinion doesn’t contribute value to the dialogue. People seem to be quite unconscious and reactive in most conversations.

When you pay attention to the difference between statements and questions you can bring clarity, rigor and effectiveness to your conversations and meetings.

For example:

  1. If someone says “I’d like to ask a question” and they go on without a question you should stop them (politely) and ask “so, what is your question?”
  2.  If you propose something and someone goes on and on expressing their opinion about your proposal, at the end of their opining you could simply say “Thank you” or “Thank you for sharing”, and move on. You don’t have to react to everything someone else says.
  3. If someone asks a “yes” or “no” type question – for example: “Do you think we should do this?” or “Do you agree with my view?” just answer it with a “yes” or “no”. Hold back your temptation to elaborate.

Start managing your meetings with rigor around statements and questions and see how the effectiveness of your team conversations will enhance.