Talking Beyond Talk #3: Inquire for Engagement

soundwave inquire voice

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Introducing…The Inquire Voice!

What is the first thing you say when you meet someone?
Chances are likely that you would adopt an open questioning technique—what we define in SoundWave as the ‘inquire’ voice.
We inquire for engagement, to allow for more information, for discussion. There is great power and magic when this style of communication is well done, as it opens up a world of possibilities for us to explore. 
Some of the everyday examples of the inquire voice start from a simple “Hi, how are you?” or an introduction, “What’s your name?” or perhaps even, “What time does the supermarket close?” 
Just ask yourself what would happen if we were to remove these everyday inquiries from our dialogue—it becomes akin to removing the entire foundation that conversations are built upon! 

Inquire Voice: The Hidden Power  

In SoundWave, to inquire refers to the brilliance of attention, to take a deep and close interest in the person or situation, investing your curiosity in asking thoughtful open questions that allow others to think and speak openly, revealing their true thoughts and the extent of their understanding or capability on an issue. It may start off with simple, open questions, but the power of the inquire voice goes way beyond!
At one level, this brilliance is all around us so it’s easy to miss its full impact, and yet it is such an important communication style that we adopt to get things done.  Watch a strategist in action to see and hear genuinely open-minded inquiry going into strategy formation. Listen to the subtlety of good coaching as the coach allows the coachee to discover their own solutions to their own problems.

Using the Inquire Voice Too Much, And Too Little

As children, we tend to adopt the voice of inquiry and communicate our curiosity in understanding the world constantly. It’s likely all of us have been endless with our countless ‘Why, why, but why?’, much to the chagrin of the adults around us. It’s hard to fault their exasperated or dismissive responses. 
When we use the inquire voice too much, we move away from the general purpose of asking questions as a whole, diverting from genuine interest to seeming interrogatory. This risks people feeling tense, cornered, and overwhelmed, which may result in reactions that move towards conflict.
However, inquiring too little can also be a problem. Inquiry is the easiest way for us to gain new information and learn new things. A failure to use this communication style when it is needed amounts to a lost opportunity to engage and connect with others. Remember that inquiring opens up the umbrella for engagement!

How can we inquire for engagement skilfully?

Contrary to popular belief, people enjoy being asked questions. The key is in ensuring that we ask it well.
When we use the inquire voice skilfully, we exude a sense of interest, curiosity and knowledge. In return, people feel connected, engaged and alert to the potential of their own ideas. Skilful inquirers act as natural coaches, their innate curiosity driving them to invite opinions and explanations from others for which they are keenly tolerant and non-judgemental. They have a knack for framing questions in a way that encourages others to think broadly and differently about their issues. 
When it comes to the inquire voice — context matters. In situations that call for more action rather than attention, it may be better to move to other verbal strategies after the initial inquiry for better progress within the interaction. 
To fully exploit the brilliance of the inquire voice, it is important for us to:
  1. Fully engage our natural state of curiosity while implementing a state of mind that is open and tolerant
  2. Focus strongly on using open questions to keep the interaction ongoing
  3. Practice skilful listening that enables this voice to understand the nature of the issue and allow it to have the impact it deserves 
The world is essentially built on our inquire voice. This is the voice that allows other people to take full ownership for their ideas and their actions. It is the voice that takes people to the edge of their comfort zone and serves to create cultures of autonomously minded people. Let us inquire for engagement and continue the cycle of gathering information, opening up the umbrella for purposeful conversations.

Curious to see if the inquire voice is part of your top preferred voices? Take our SoundWave Brilliance 3 Communication Assessment.

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Maalikka is the latest addition to SoundWave's team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix, and cats.

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