“Ask clarifying questions before you answer.” – wise words from Quint Studer, renowned leader and founder of the Studer Group.
Clarification is a skill we use to ensure that we have understood the message of the speaker in an interpersonal exchange. When using clarification follow these guidelines to help aid communication and understanding.
- Admit if you are unsure about what the speaker means
- Ask for repetition if needed
- State what the speaker has said as you understand it, and check whether this is what they really said
- Ask for specific examples
- Use open, non-directive questions
- Ask if you have got it right and be prepared to be corrected
As leaders, we often want to solve the problem, provide an answer, be the solution — before we even fully understand. Asking the right question at the right time can be crucial to your answer and comes with practice. Try to trick yourself by requiring three clarifying questions for every request. Only after those three questions, permit yourself to provide a response.