Dale Carnegie knew that asking questions not only makes an order more palatable, it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.
In his book, “How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking,” he tells the story of Ian MacDonald of Johannesburg, South Africa. MacDonald was the general manager of a small manufacturing plant specializing in precision machine parts and had the opportunity to accept a very large order. But he was convinced that he would no be able to meet the delivery date. The work already scheduled in the shop and the short completion time needed for this order made it seem impossible for him to accept the order.
Instead of pushing his people to accelerate their work and rush the order through, he called everybody together, explained the situation to them, and told them how much it would mean to the company and to them if they could make it possible to produce the order on time. Then he started asking questions:
“Is there anything we can do to handle this order?
“Can anyone think of different ways to process it through the shop that will make it possible to take the order?”
“Is there any way to adjust our hours or personnel assignments that would help?”
The employees came up with many ideas and insisted that he take the order. They approached it with a “We can do it” attitude, and the order was accepted, produced, and delivered on time.
Always remember that an effective leader will ask questions instead of giving orders. Here’s an example of this principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana:
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Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono