How to Ask Intimate Questions

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August 4, 2014
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Questions hold the key to the doors of effective communication. But they can do more than open doors. They can help you develop Leadership Intimacy. The sum of how you as a leader apply your emotion, cognition, behavior, and communication determines how effectively you will be able to inspire action, motivate engagement, and mobilize performance.

question mark keyholeLeaders can begin to build Leadership Intimacy with intimate questions. What are intimate questions?

Intimate questions enable you to personalize your leadership approach and help you adapt to the needs and aspirations of your employees, team, peers, and manager as they apply to each individual.

Only intimate questions can uncover what you need to know in order to develop an accurate understanding of others and to flex your style to accommodate that understanding.

When you ask Intimate questions—questions that go to the heart of an issue—you not only get better answers, you build rapport and strengthen relationships. Intimate questions enable you to personalize your leadership approach and identify specific ways in which you can motivate others toward higher performance and commitment.

Formal Questions

The typical polite inquiries people use throughout the day to be cordial do little to build intimacy or rapport. They can actually do more harm than good to a working relationship.

  • How are you?
  • How’s it going?
  • Hot enough for you?

Intimate Questions

Sincere inquiries into specific issues show you know what concerns someone. They demonstrate your interest, understanding, and concern. They show that you really want to know something and that you’re not merely going through the motions of social interaction.

  • You mentioned that you are working on developing your presentation skills. How is it going?
  • I’m impressed that you got the client meeting confirmed. How did you manage to do that?
  • What can I do to help you prioritize your workload today? I know you have been very busy this week.
  • Yesterday was an exhausting day for all of us. How did you sleep? Feeling refreshed?
  • How did you feel when our meeting did not produce the outcomes you wanted?
  • How did you feel when you (insert positive outcome)?
  • What can I do to gain more trust with you?

The same goes for goodbye greetings. “Let me know how your next presentation goes,” builds much stronger bonds than, “Good luck.”

Questions for You

Do you feel comfortable asking questions? What about intimate questions? How do you feel when you have to ask someone a very personal question?

If you want to enable intimate questioning for yourself or your leaders, join us in our next CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Workshop. You will work with other leaders who will also be learning what a profound impact intimate questions can have on their development as leaders.

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Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.