A leadership consultant who's trained thousands of managers says to ask one question after every meeting

Job interview, boss, meetingWOCinTech Chat/flickrAsk the person to tell you what was most useful for them in the conversation.

On any given workday, you probably have tons of conversations in which you say tons of important things.

But the truth is that most of those things are completely forgotten. Gone. Vanished. It’s like you never said them.

It’s not because your coworkers are a bunch of twits, either — we simply can’t remember everything we hear, or we’d go absolutely nuts.

Fortunately, you can up the chances of people remembering at least one smart thing you said by posing a simple question at the end of every interaction: “What was most useful for you?”

That’s according to Michael Bungay Stanier, founder of leadership consultancy Box of Crayons and author of several books, including most recently, “The Coaching Habit.”

Business Insider spoke to Stanier at the 99U Conference in New York City and he told us that asking questions of your employees, coworkers, and clients is generally a better M.O. than spouting out advice. That’s because you empower people to think for themselves and act more like a “coach” than a traditional manager.

One of the most meaningful questions is what Stanier calls the “Learning Question,” and involves asking the employee or the client what they found most useful or valuable about the conversation.

What you’re doing, he said, is essentially “interrupting, making people reflect and extract the value and extract the learning.”

Suddenly, all the information that was on its way out of their brain is pulled back and scrutinised.

And it’s not just for their benefit — it can help you, too.

“The bonus, of course,” Stanier said, “is when you ask the question, you also get feedback. So that next time you get to do more of the stuff that works and less of the other stuff.”

You can tweak the question to fit your specific situation, Stanier said. Variations include:

  • “What do you know now that you didn’t know before?”
  • “What was the ‘aha!’ moment for you?
  • “What should we do differently next time?”

However you say it, the goal is to “disrupt and cause a moment of reflection to get a new ‘aha!’ to put into the working memory,” Stainer said.

That way, all your brilliant insights won’t be lost, and your coworkers and clients won’t need to call you up 10 minutes later asking you a question you already addressed.

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