Learning to answer questions may feel like a skill you picked up in preschool, but it’s more complicated than you think. Within a question, even a short one, may be assumptions and details that you miss if you’re not paying attention. Knowing how to break down a question can help you figure out how to answer it in ways that your clients, employees, and other people will understand. Here are five tips you can use to clarify your communication.
You’ve probably had many experiences where you needed clarification on something, and the person was so quick to answer that they didn’t actually listen to the question. When you know much more about the status of a project and its unique needs than the client, it’s tempting to assume you know whatever they are going to ask and can save time by answering quickly. But sometimes this means that you miss a crucial component to the question. This can lead you to giving an incomplete answer. Instead, listen carefully to the entire question and give yourself time to think about how you want to answer. Make sure to minimize distractions so you can pay close attention.
Get Clarification Before Crafting an Answer
In some cases, clients may be in such a rush or so worried about wasting your time that they don’t give you all the information you need to answer the question. For example, they might ask you about your expectations on the delivery of a particular project, but you’re not sure which aspect they need to focus on. In this case, it is perfectly acceptable to respond to a question with more questions. This allows you to make sure that you are getting all the details before you craft a reply.
Avoid Answering a Different Question
Many politicians and others prominent in public affairs are very good at listening to a question and turning it into something completely different. But if clients are to understand the details of the project, as well as your needs and expectations, you must answer their questions as they have asked them. Sometimes clients ask questions that indicate a concern about something else. For example, someone might ask you about when you expect to be done with the project because they are worried about when they will have to pay for it. But as a general rule, you should assume that you need to answer the question as the client indicates.
Tailor Answers to the Listener
The way that you answer a question depends heavily on the person who asks. You may be able to anticipate a much higher degree of understanding from one of your employees or a subcontractor than you would a homeowner with limited experience in the services you offer. Most people appreciate avoiding the use of jargon or making answers to questions unnecessarily complicated. Sometimes, people already think they know the answer and they just want to confirm it. If you can do so, you may be able to save a lot of time and hassle.
Follow Up to Confirm Understanding
It’s customary, after you have answered a few questions, to ask a client if they understand or if they have any other questions. But you should also know that it is customary for people to say that they understand or that they don’t have any other questions, even if they didn’t know how to interpret your answer. This is where you can ask them questions about their expectations and concerns. It may provide an excellent opportunity to confirm that they were asking the right question, and help to assure them that you are ready to clarify any aspect of the project as needed.
Working in construction means meeting with people from all walks of life, and learning to interact with them in ways that get both parties what they need. When you know how to answer questions efficiently, you can clear up confusion and make projects run more smoothly. To learn how to build a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!