Who is the smartest person?
The person who knows the most?
Or the person who learns the most?
When you are trying to connect with somebody, you probably won’t pull out a PowerPoint and give them a 20-minute presentation.
You will engage in a conversation, which means more than one person speaking and some back and forth of stories and opinions.
And the easiest way to create and maintain a conversation is to ask questions.
An intelligent question…
Has more value than an intelligent answer.
And the simplest way to be the smartest person in the room is to ask intelligent questions.
Remember when you were in school and professors always encouraged participation by saying: “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”?
It turns out that they were right.
So long as the question is within the context of your conversation, it’s an intelligent question.
Make it probing, allowing the person you are speaking with to think and you to learn.
Questions make you smart
We already agree that curiosity is an asset.
Use questions to maintain that curiosity.
Whether you are speaking with a client, a colleague, an employee, a new contact at a networking event, even a friend: start with a question. It can be as simple as “what are you working on” or “what do you do” or “how long have you been in this business/group/industry”. And when you get an answer, ask a couple more questions to keep the conversation going.
Because even when you have a lot to say, that knowledge or information only really has value for people as much as it pertains to them.
Ask the questions, get them thinking, let the conversation flow naturally from there.
Email me. Ask me a question, any question.