The next time you attend a party or large gathering, look around at the group clusters that invariably form. Choose a couple of them to quietly walk up to and stand on the perimeter with rapt attention. What you’re likely to hear if you listen carefully is that there are three kinds of people in each group. There is the “blabber” who talks incessantly until those around them finally tire and walk away. There is also the “spectator” who likes to listen, hoping to be entertained, informed, and educated or all of the above. The spectators seldom contribute, especially if they’re shy and introverted. The third kind of person in small groups is the one who is prone to ask good questions. They often begin by carefully listening, and then at a pause in the interaction, they’ll ask a meaningful question. The best questions are ones relevant to everyone gathered around. Based on the information gathered by listening, those who ask good questions determine which questions will be of mutual interest.
The point I’m making can be summarized in one sentence: If you want helpful answers ask outstanding questions. Below are a few suggestions.
If you’re with a group of rental income property owners and managers, why not ask, “How do you keep your units filled with reliable residents?” Or ask them initially, “How are your vacancy rates?”
When you’re with a group of clients and residents you can ask a question that has the potential to lower your own vacancy rates. “How can I improve my service to you?” That may well be the most important question you end up asking in the weeks and months ahead.
“How can I improve my service to you?” implies that you care about your relationship to the ones you’re asking. If they ask you to be more specific, by all means ask an even better question.
“What can I do for you that will improve your experience as my client (or as a resident at a property you manage)?” Ask them to be candid with you because you really value them as a client or resident.
Then be prepared to listen more carefully than ever before. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn. Also be ready to answer some of their questions. Asking good questions initiates good conversations.
An effective question is usually a gift delivered to the person or persons you’re speaking with. It shows that you care and it often sparks their imagination to come up with ideas, suggestions and complaints. Yes, you’re willing to hear complaints. After all, would you rather lose a client or a good resident who felt they didn’t have a voice, or would you like to know ahead of time what’s bugging them?
Asking the best questions takes careful preparation and plenty of experience. Jot down and keep a list of as many important questions as you can. What questions would you like people to ask you? Start now!
We’d love to know what questions you come up with, so post your ideas in the comments section.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.