Ask Questions To Improve Communication with Nonprofit Board Members

(This article was previously published on the Institute for Nonprofit Management IOM Blog)

Asking questions is an excellent technique for improving communication with board members.

Why is asking questions important?

Listening is the most essential part of any conversation and by asking questions you’re demonstrating to the other person you are paying attention. By being an active listener, you are showing your interest and your questions let them know what they’re saying is important.

Questions also help get clarity and better understanding of what’s being said.

How often do situations with board members arise that are caused by a misunderstanding that could have been circumvented by getting-to-clarity questions?

When should the practice of asking questions be used? What about during conversation with potential board candidates and during new board member orientation?

Wouldn’t it make sense to put questions to work when a board member is being asked to take on a new leadership role? Comments and questions during a board meeting will present opportunities to seek clarity and better understanding.

My speaker colleague Barry Banther uses his four time tested questions to get more information and to benefit from greater awareness of someone’s thoughts. He shares them in his book, A Leader’s Gift, and they are:

  • How do you mean that?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Why is this important?
  • How will this affect us?

Try Barry Banther’s questions or develop your own and by incorporating them you will get the benefit of improved communication.

Board members have shared with me that poor communication is the top issue contributing to board members not doing what they’re supposed to do and why good board members become disengaged.

By taking action to be a better communicator, you can avoid a lot of challenges related to board member engagement.

Good, effective communication is a critical element to successful relationships and by actively incorporating questions you are enhancing your ability to be a better communicator. So the benefit formula is: Asking questions =s Being a better listener =s Better communication =s Better relationships with your board members.

How can you incorporate asking questions to improve communication with your board members?

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