When you have an idea, it's easy to think you have the answer, which limits the questions you ask. Speaking at the wrong time can also limit your opportunity to learn something valuable from someone else. It's easy to not even listen to the answers when you're busy thinking about your great idea, presuming you're right.

Here's a way to ask questions that allow you to hear what everyone else has to think before you give your opinion:

Present a situation or problem, and ask an open-ended question such as "What do you think we should do about XYZ?", i.e., raise the issue without offering an answer.

This leaves room for others to express a variety of options. It's also important to shut up and let people think without rushing to fill the silence. Waiting to express your views until everyone has spoken does a couple of things:

1) It gives everybody else the feeling that they’ve been heard and contributed.

2) You gain perspective by understanding what everybody else thinks.

You never know what you'll learn when you ask a question the right way; especially when speaking last.


Inspired by: Inc - Exceptional Leaders Never Speak First. Neither Should You, by Jeff Haden