Two little words, yet so powerful: I’m curious.  I don’t remember when I learned this tool, but it has been so helpful.  We all hear that we should listen more than we speak, that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that ratio.  That great conversations and relationship are built by listening.  To listen, we need to ask questions.  But if we ask questions straight away, we leave an unanswered question in the recipient’s mind.  They hear our question, but they might be thinking, “Why is this guy asking me this?”  “What does he want from me?”  “What is he trying to sell me?” For example, “How do you keep track of knowledge within your company?” vs simply adding “I’m curious…” to the front of that same question.    I’ve found this simple tool can quickly fill in the blanks, disarm doubt, and help someone move straight to providing information.  Which is what you want – what you’re curious about anyways!