Asking questions to build relationships

From Starting Anew by Apple SVP Retail Angela Ahrendts:

My father used to always say, “Ask questions, don’t make assumptions.” Questions invite conversations, stimulate thinking, break down barriers, create positive energy and show your willingness to understand and learn. Questions show humility, acknowledgement and respect for the past, and give you greater insights into both the business and individuals. And don’t be afraid to ask personal questions or share a few of your personal details. Talking about weekend interests, family and friends can give you a more complete view of your peers and partners, their passion and compassion. Building a relationship is also the first step in building trust, which quickly leads towards alignment and unity.

(1) Many others have pointed out the importance of asking questions. Angela Ahrendts adds a new perspective: questions as relationship builders.
(2) Cf. How to ask great questions.

3 thoughts on “Asking questions to build relationships

    • Seth was saying that asking questions about hypothetical future decisions, such as “how much would you pay for this product?”, doesn’t give you accurate information. But that’s not the same as “don’t ask questions”. You can learn a ton from asking questions, particularly about what people actually do, or have done in the past, or what their opinions or beliefs are.

  1. I think there’s a difference between creating a product (where people don’t yet know what will fix their problem, and don’t exactly know what the problem is sometimes) and talking with people. Listening is one of the most important social skills for life, and asking good questions (and listening to the answers) is a huge part of listening.

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