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The Case for Asking Sensitive Questions

https://hbr.org/2020/11/the-case-for-asking-sensitive-questions

hbr.org

The Case for Asking Sensitive Questions
Research shows they don’t make people as uncomfortable as you think — and they can actually improve relationships.

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Avoiding sensitive questions comes at a cost

Avoiding sensitive questions comes at a cost

Asking sensitive questions can help build stronger relationships. However, we should know how to seek useful information while minimising the discomfort we feel.

We often avoid asking questions that feel too sensitive or personal. But, when negotiating a salary or finding a place to stay, knowing how much a coworker earns or how much a friend pays in rent can be very useful.

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How to ask a sensitive question

  • Rather than directly asking a delicate question, take the time to explain why you're asking and how you plan to use the information.
  • Find an appropriate, private environment for a one-on-one conversation.

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We fail to correctly predict reactions

Research points out that people avoid asking sensitive questions out of fear that they would offend the other party. But when they finally did ask sensitive questions, most people were far less offended than expected.

Moreover, asking personal questions also triggered meaningful conversations that fostered stronger relationships.

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