I was recently at an Optometrist appointment and the optometrist asked me some questions that made me feel slightly uncomfortable, suspicious and whether they were appropriate to ask a stranger.
They started off harmless but I soon found that it began to cross over from general interest to interrogation type questions.
He asked about what I do for a living, do I work from home etc.
The next one was if I had always lived in Dunedin. ? When I replied that I grew up in several places in Central Otago, he followed it up with why we moved to Dunedin? Then what did my father do?
I politely replied that he worked as an engineer on the Clyde Dam before he went to Beaurepairs before his premature death from a motorcycle accident at the age of 29.
He quickly back tracked and apologised and then moved onto checking my eyes.
This got me thinking about where the line gets drawn when asking questions in a business atmosphere.
There are certainly topics to avoid such as religion and politics as they can easily turn from being a polite discussion if the beliefs are shared into an ugly war of words if opinions differ.
It can be treacherous territory if you ask the wrong questions.
Safe Questions Will Lead To Better Conversations
Don’t get to personal in asking information about clients or employees. This could be a potential client and if you are spilling the beans on one client, you may do it to them too!
2. Do ask if they have any plans for the holidays. This is a safe question as they can either describe partially or in full their plans or say nothing and then you can move on.
Do not ask how long they will be away for. This can be seen as a ruse to find out how long their home will be unoccupied for.
3. Do ask if they are into a particular sport and if so, did they happen to catch the game?
Do not ask if they saw the news regarding a recent murder or suicide. This could be too close to home and the person may even be related to a victim.
The other thing you need to be cautious of is the fact that you may not know who you are talking to; they may know you or someone you know.
Avoid asking questions that could be dark, gloomy or negative.
You want your clients and customers to walk away feeling happy and positive. Not reminded of a horrible event or having debated with someone regarding a political belief.
Keep questions that involve opinion out of it and you should be safe.