9 Unexpected Questions that Create Engagement

It’s awkward to think you are good at something and find out you aren’t. I used to think I was a great listener. Hemingway rightly said, “Most people never listen.” Now I say I’m learning about open listen. “Coaching for Engagement,” is helping.

Open listening is rigorous work not passive silence. Fools can be quiet but they can’t listen.

Listen and you’ll know what to ask.

Managers that bring out the best in others practice open listening.

Five things closed listeners think:

  1. How is this impacting me?
  2. When have I experienced this too?
  3. What would I do about this?
  4. What do I need to tell them?
  5. My example is better than theirs.

Nine questions open listeners ask that create engagement:

  1. What are they focused on?
  2. What does this mean to them?
  3. How are they measuring success?
  4. What values are they expressing?
  5. What emotions do I hear in their voice?
  6. What values or beliefs are behind their words?
  7. How is this impacting them?
  8. What strengths have they articulated that could be acknowledged?
  9. What are they really asking for?

Pitfalls to open listening:

  1. Jumping for quick solutions – you’ll solve the wrong problem.
  2. Discomfort with other’s frustration while they find their own answers. Let others struggle.
  3. Assumptions, beliefs, and judgments.
  4. Getting caught up in the details of the story. Keep the big picture in mind.
  5. Discomfort with silence. Shhhh!

Open listening enables others to find their own solutions. Employees that find their own solutions develop confidence, require less guidance, and achieve greater results.

Note: The lists on this post are derived from, “Coaching for Engagement.” The authors list six skills successful manager-coaches employee; open listening, in my opinion, is central.


What pitfalls do you see when you work at being a great listener?

How do you use listening to bring out the best in others?