Most of us have our own set of pet peeves. Comments, actions, or behaviors that make us roll our eyes or initiate the fingers-down-a-chalkboard physical reaction in our body. (As I type that sentence, I realize how dated that reference is. Classrooms don’t even have chalkboards anymore. My son’s classroom has a smartboard that could probably write this post for me.)

One of my peeves is when a speaker I’m listening to or someone I’m having a conversation with repeatedly makes declarative statements and then follows those statements with “right?”. That’s super annoying, right?

There are several reasons why that reflexive statement question pattern burrows itself under my skin, but the primary reason is that you’re not asking for my opinion, another response, or even if I agree with what you’re saying. You’re just ASSUMING your statement is true and that I happen to agree.

Let me cut to the end of this movie for you….Assuming you know what people are thinking never ends well. And often the stalker with the knife is hiding behind the shower curtain. (Again, another dated phrase with the advent of our new fancy shower doors….)

As our focus this month is on the Power of Questions, I thought I would highlight 4 Types of Sneaky Questions to watch out for.

Ask yourself if you might be guilty of hiding behind these question curtains.

Then ask someone you trust. I’m not implying that you’ll get a different answer, but give it a try. Just promise me you won’t say “I don’t do this, right?”

4 Types of Sneaky Questions

1. Assuming Knowledge: “You’re familiar with XYZ strategy, right?”

2. Implied Agreement: “Don’t you agree that our current approach is best?”

3. Presumptive Future: “When you become a senior executive, how will you handle these types of situations?” (Admittedly this one is sticky. In coaching conversations, specifically geared toward anticipating future challenges and preparing for additional possible outcomes, I use this. But I’m an Internationally Certified Executive Leadership Coach…don’t try this at home.🤓)

4. Loaded Questions: “Why do you always prefer the traditional method over innovative solutions?” (Tune in next week for a flashback to an oldie but goodie Thought Partner on the greatest conversation killer of all time. One hint…it’s hiding in this sentence.)

Questions that make assumptions, imply agreements or lead conversations down a narrow path limit our perspective and hinder effective communication.

Leaders are tasked with encouraging a culture of open-mindedness, curiosity, and a willingness to reassess preconceived notions. 

What are your thoughts?