Thursday, February 28, 2013

Note to a Smarty Pants

 Are you a smarty pants like me? I love to guess what people think, or mean, and try to recall little facts about them to let them know I care.  Here are some examples:

“And you have two kids?”
“You work at the Holiday gas station, right?”
“You think my blog rocks, don’t you?”
 “I bet you were pretty happy about that.”

I really do have good intentions. The problem with this line of questioning is that it makes you look like, well, a smarty pants. And while people may appreciate that you can remember a few details about them or can correctly guess their emotional state, it still makes you look like a smarty pants.

But, if you guess wrong? Then you just look like a smarty pants who is self-absorbed, doesn’t listen well, and doesn’t know the other person at all. And who likes this kind of smarty pants?

Which is why we have the lovely Open-ended Question.  You can save yourself a lot of embarrassment and earn positivity points with the talker as being inquisitive, respectful and a good listener. Here’s what those smarty pants questions look like using the open-ended format:

“How many children do you have?”
“Where do you work?”
“What do you think of my blog?”
“How do you feel about that?” (I know, it has that new age-y, touchy-feely tone, but it’s better than guessing incorrectly.)

Give the open-ended question a try and your counterpart – be it a client, co-worker, family member, friend, or foe – will think you’re far more savvy and sensitive - even if you are still sometimes a smarty pants.