7 Secrets To Mastering Communication Secret #5 Asking Questions

7 Secrets To Mastering Communication Secret #5 Asking Questions

Welcome back to 7 Secrets To Mastering Communication

SECRET #5 – Asking Questions  

Asking questions is a major key to mastering communication. Yet, so often most conversations are a battle for air-time with one person ending up shutting down when the other has done what I call the one-upmanship stunt and taken over the topic. Whether it’s casual bantering or expressing important concerns, hijacking a conversation is rarely conducive to enhancing your relationships over time.

Conversational hijacking happens when we are so eager to demonstrate our knowledge, awesomeness and worthiness to another person. This may be rationalized as being well-intended or being of service to another person but underneath that is an unconscious need to control, be right, be of service whether it’s requested or not, be responsible for another person’s emotions or reactions assuming or fearing that they are not able to handle their own emotions and responses.

3 Typical Conversational Hijacking Scenarios

Number 1

You say, “I’ve got this problem with a coworker.”
The other person says, “I had the same problem at work and I …” Add a solution or your point of view. It’s all about being the fixer because clearly Susan needs or wants your advice.

Number 2

You say, “This is my concern.”
The other person says, “If I were you, I’d …” Add your stories, personal experience or quotes from the experts. It’s all about them showing their expertise without noticing that your eyes have glazed over.

Number 3

You’ve been telling a story about a recent event that you are really excited about and want to share.
The other person says, “I can so relate. A couple years ago I had the same thing happen to me,” and the other person has trampolined into their own story, all about them and never notices that you’ve has tuned out, feeling like they’re not the least bit interested in what you’ve just shared with them.

How do you feel? Where have your thoughts and interest gone in the conversation? Let’s face it. We’ve all done this because we aren’t all skilled in the art of asking questions that would help the other person work out their issues for themselves.

If your intent is to enrich your relationships and support others, then start by giving the gift of gab. That means asking questions that allow the other person to ponder, reflect and search for their own solutions.

So what questions should you be asking?

Enter the conversation with the mindset that the other person has all the answers within. Bear in mind that even if you have the most riveting story, years of expertise and are chomping at the bit to share your wisdom and doctoring services, your crystal ball into another person’s world is always foggy.

Asking questions like these expands your conversations.

What kind of solutions have you thought about?
What outcome would you like to see?

That’s such an exciting story! Depending on what the person said, you can ask for more details and revel in their excitement by not upstaging them with your story.

Asking open ended questions interspersed with silence have people feeling expanded, valued and confident that they can find their own solutions. You will have deepened your mutual trust and respect as well as having people looking forward to having more conversations with you.

Do you ever catch yourself hijacking conversations? You probably do, so don’t beat yourself up now that you have the secret about asking questions. Start asking questions only in your conversations and see the magic happen!

I’m so glad you are here! If you liked this post, please leave your comment and feel free to share it with family and friends.

To your Masterful Communication!


If you’re frustrated at not being heard, feel like your needs are not being met, say “Yes” when you really want to say “No” and take things personally, then you should definitely contact me today about my innovative online Compatibility Index. In less than 60 minutes, I can tell you exactly why you are struggling in your conversations and give you tips and strategies for communicating your needs and desires confidently, elegantly and guilt-free!



18 Responses to 7 Secrets To Mastering Communication Secret #5 Asking Questions

  1. Kat says:

    All so true! I was doing a training course about active listening the other day and all your examples came up as examples of “roadblocks” used in non-active listening. Thanks Deb, really insightful and helpful, with some great alternative coaching style questions to use.
    Kat recently posted…Herding catsMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kat. Learning to ask a few probing coaching questions without sounding too coachy makes such a difference. I’m glad you noticed!

  2. You bring about such a valuable point: lots of times, people simple want another person to listen. A big plus in communication is a willingness to draw out another person’s story and listen to it with interest. Thanks so much!
    Kathy Widenhouse recently posted…Apr 28, Quotes About Simplicity for Copywriters and Nonprofit LeadersMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy. It’s amazing how much clarity comes from just hearing your own voice without necessarily having the listener respond!

  3. Kama says:

    As a counsellor I have really learnt the importance of asking questions. In my spiritual practice also I believe that nothing should be taken for-granted. As a curious person I also like to ask questions and get to know more about people. If we don’t ask questions then we are potentially missing out. Great post and reminder.
    Kama recently posted…Comment on How to Create a Space Within For Your Heartache by KamaMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      Hi Kama. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. The idea of only asking questions and listening is so unfamiliar to so many yet it makes listening so much more peaceful when the most helpful thing we can do is be silent and ask the right questions that support the speaker.

  4. Wow! This happens to me a lot. I am fairly quiet and an introvert. A lot of times there is always somebody that wants to cut over everyone and dominate the conversation. I try very hard not to cut anyone off.
    Adrienne Dupree recently posted…Perseverance – The KeyTo Success in Online MarketingMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      As Americans, we are uncomfortable with silence in conversations and feel like every moment has to be filled with noise. Getting comfortable with being silent is a great skill to have. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  5. Amy says:

    Each one of these made me nod my head. My convos get hijacked all the time, but I’m sure I do it, too. I’ll try to be more mindful of being a patient listener!!
    Amy recently posted…“More fish please,” says nobody at our house, EVER–until nowMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      Mine do, too, with certain people who are important in my life. In that case, I ask for what I want from them which is to just listen. Sometimes it happens and sometimes they just cannot control their need to jump in so I’ve learned who to share certain topics with where and when hijacking doesn’t matter to me. That’s where the “gift of gab” comes in. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mary Pat says:

    Thanks Deb. I needed to hear what wrote. I am guilty. I like your examples of questions and I will try them. :)
    Mary Pat recently posted…Premise #2: The Biggest Sin Is The Sin Of Self HatredMy Profile

    • Deb says:

      Keep reminding yourself and soon you’ll find that asking questions becomes very natural. It’s not our responsibility to manage other people’s responses, as helpful as that may seem to some people. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  7. Suzie Cheel says:

    yes asking questions is such a powerful way of improving communication both with yourself, your friends and co workers
    Great to meet you and your blog
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Beach Inspiration: Be JoyMy Profile

  8. Bonnie Gean says:

    I don’t generally hijack conversations as I am a pretty good listener, but I would think there are times offline where I hijack the conversations with the partner.

    It’s not a very good habit, plus it’s rude. I know I do it, so that’s half the battle of fixing it! :)
    Bonnie Gean recently posted…How to Create a Killer VideoMy Profile

  9. Tamsin says:

    Hi Deb

    Beautiful post. Reminds me of the saying – We have 2 ears and 1 mouth – so we should do twice as much listening as speaking :)

    I know that I’m definitely guilty of the hijacking conversations :( and will work on improving asking questions!
    Tamsin recently posted…Transformation Not InformationMy Profile

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