There's a simple two-word question that I've found to be extremely useful in client conversations (and at other times too).
So, let me share how this question has worked for me, and how this article came about.
A client and I were booked in for a meeting and when we began our conversation, I asked him:
“What would you most like to get from our time together today?”
He shared his answer, and yet I just got the sense there was more. So I asked him:
I ended up asking “What else?” six times, and each time something different came up. I don’t usually ask the question that many times, but on this occasion it just seemed the right thing to do.
And something interesting happened.
On the sixth time of asking my client said:
“I’m so glad you kept asking me because there is something really important I’d like to talk about, and if you hadn’t been persistent it probably wouldn’t have come up.”
It turned into a powerful and insightful conversation.
I reflected on what happened and a couple of things occurred to me.
Firstly, how useful it is to let go of your thinking during conversations and allow your mind to be free. When we do this, we'll be far more intuitive and responsive to our client’s thoughts and feelings in the moment.
Secondly, I recalled how one of my mentors, Christina Hall, always used to say: “There’s always more”.
She said there is always the potential to go deeper and discover more about what’s most important to someone.
For example, if a client shares a goal with you then I encourage you to explore the goal behind that – what are the internal states and values your client wants to experience as a result of the external goal?
This is what creates value. It's an act of high service to have a deep respect for what someone hasn’t thought of – yet.
It turns an intellectual conversation (which has no depth) into a meaningful, emotional experience.
So, a useful question to ask when someone shares a goal with you is: “What does that give you, or what does that do for you?”
And once they share their thoughts you can ask:
“What else?” Possibly more than once.
Sometimes there may be nothing else, but equally they might share the most important thing in your entire meeting.
When someone has a significant realisation you notice a shift; a change in their energy.
This is a time to stay quiet and allow them to be in that feeling, for as long as they need to be. Avoid jumping in because you're uncomfortable with the silence.
Ultimately, asking “what else?” comes from your own curiosity and willingness to be in the unknown. It's an invitation to your client to think more deeply, perhaps more deeply than they have done in a long while. Or possibly ever before.
And who else is going to do this for them, if not you?