Asking Tough Questions

Often as a leader you are forced to ask tough questions. Many Toastmasters might want to ask . . . Why do you keep backing out of your scheduled speeches? Why do you keep canceling our club officer meetings? Why aren’t you starting Pathways? While those are good assertive questions, but the structure and tone are very confrontational. You will probably offend that person or make them very, VERY angry. Fortunately, there is a better way.

To have a healthy dialogue you need to complete three steps: 1) Start with the facts, 2) Share your conclusions, and 3) Request some dialogue.

For the facts, use one of these three Starter Sentences: I saw…, I heard…, or I noticed… . For example, I noticed you canceled your last three speeches.

For your conclusions, use one of these three Starter Sentences: It seems to me…, I’m curious as to…, or I’m wondering if… . For example, I’m wondering if you’re having trouble writing your speech.

For requesting dialogue, use one of these three Starter Sentences: Can you help me understand…, What is your viewpoint…, or Am I missing something… . For example, Can you help me understand why you have canceled your last three speeches?

These non-threatening approaches seek clarification. Use starter sentences to state the facts, share your conclusions and start a healthy dialogue. For more information look for the book titled, “Crucial Conversations.”

Category: Episode
About The Author
- Daniel is the Executive Producer and web developer of Founder's District TV. He has been a member of Toastmasters Founder's District since 2005 and is now serving as the Club Growth Director for 2015-2016.