Here are three questions that will raise your profile as a communicator and will make you a lot more friends and allies in your office:
Is there anything else? During my TV reporter days, I found this question to be a gold mine. Very often people had something very meaningful to say but either felt too shy to mention it or had not been prompted to respond by one of my questions. Often in a conversation, we're focused on reaching the end of a discussion as soon as possible. Let the other person have a chance to get in the last word. At worst, you'll let them sum up their thoughts and needs, which can only help you. And who knows, you might pick up a reputation for being a great listener and who does not feel special when someone is making an effort to listen to them?
Can you help me? Put this question before your next question or request. While it may be easier to ask, "Where are the XYZ reports filed?" you'll likely get a more helpful response if you ask, "Can you help me? I'm trying to find the XYZ reports." It's a small change but it gives the person you're asking a chance to feel like a hero. Everyone likes to feel special and this allows the person with the answer the chance to feel extra special. This especially works well if you're talking to someone who is below you in an organization. The fact that you're willing to admit vulnerability will also score you some points with people. It's very rare that this question does not get someone's best effort.
How important is this argument? It's normal to have disagreements in the workplace. But often these become less about the issue at hand and more about personality conflicts. Before long, they become verbal sparing matches where there's a definite winner and loser and a ton of dirty laundry gets spread out for all to see. While spirited debts are healthy for any organization, you do not want to be remembered as the person who lost their cool over the new kitchen cleaning policies. Pick your battles and save your passion for when it really counts. If you constantly escalate a disagreement into a full-blown argument, you'll start to make enemies fast and lose prestige among your coworkers. The next time you feel your adrenaline flowing, ask yourself this question and pull back if you need to. Having a cool head may not be listed on a job application but it's a skill that's always appreciated. …