Ask Hard Questions in a Soft Way

An effective business relationship is really achieved by combining the skills based on IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional quotient), and XQ (execution quotient). IQ is the capability to bring business intellect to the table, asking the hard questions. EQ is the capability to quickly create a “container of safety” for clients, so you can ask “hard” questions in a “soft” or acceptable way. XQ is the capability to execute with discipline. It’s the fusion of IQ/EQ/XQ that really achieves trust, effective dialogue, and delivery of effective results.

Here are some examples of softening statements that help establish the EQ before the IQ:
“Would it be okay if I asked you a few questions relating to…?”
“It sounds like this issue has a particularly high profile right now—and if I were in your shoes I’m sure I’d be sharing much the same perspective as you (EQ). What’s going on in your company that specifically leads you to believe that this issue really is a problem (IQ)?”

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