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6 Seek to Understand > Ask Lots of Questions - Pg. 91

S E E K T O U N D E R S TA N D 91 Your reputation as a professional depends in great measure upon your ability to partner with others. If you come across as thinking you have all the answers, you will earn a reputation for not being a team player, and in today's work environment that is the kiss of death to your career. The surest way to demonstrate to others that you value their partnership is to include them in discussions, have them probe possible solutions, and look for answers with you. When you take the time to ask questions because you genuinely want the input, give those with whom you work the time to share their ideas in full. This simple act of openness and patience demon- strates respect for their views and serves as a strong statement of your con- fidence in their ability to think through potential initiatives and action steps. Give People Face Time In today's busy world, time often necessitates that getting input and ideas from others takes place through e-mail or on conference calls. This works well under some circumstances, but for the most significant issues it won't suffice. Claude Ritman, executive director of Coler-Goldwater Hospital in New York City, can't emphasize this enough. I meet with family members, communicate with front-line staff, and never rely solely on written reports. There is nothing like meet- ing face-to-face. . . that is the most immediate and the most effective way of getting feedback. The lesson is that you should not let important issues rest without an in-person discussion. E-mail--just like memos of yesteryear--can be seen as very impersonal and often come across as fait accompli. There is no bet- ter way to address an important issue and demonstrate a human approach to your business role than getting together in one room to discuss impor- tant decisions, strategies, and initiatives. Ask Lots of Questions If you want to encourage a thoughtful and productive dialog and engage with people in a way that will produce the best thinking--therefore, the best ideas--the depth of the questions you ask of your team to stimulate discussion will make a big difference. American Management Association / www.amanet.org