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Asking Bold Questions: Assertive Communication Techniques

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

by Stephanie Bickel

assertive communication

There are often times when you are in meetings when you are not the subject matter expert. This tends to cause some discomfort and uncertainty because you feel you are not adding value to the discussion. You may wonder how you can actively participate when you don't know the answers. There are other assertive communication best practices you can use to spark new ideas.

Ask BOLD questions.

When you know the best questions to ask, you show off your communication skills and highlight your experience. You also accelerate decision making and problem solving for your teams. It is an art and the sequence matters. When you can identify good questions to ask, they often need a lot of time to answer. Be easy on yourself and others. These are not just good questions to ask, they are also effective questions when selling consulting services or larger engagements. Here are the best questions to ask.

Step 1: "Prove the Problem Exists" Questions

  1. What evidence do we have this problem exists? How do we know it is happening?

  2. What is happening?

  3. Where is it happening?

  4. When is it happening?

  5. Who specifically is telling us it is happening?

  6. Which groups are affected?

  7. Who specifically is affected by this?

Step 2: "Significance" Questions

  1. What is the size of this problem?

  2. What is the scope?

  3. Why is this important?

  4. How urgent is this? Why now?

Step 3: "KPI" Questions – Do math!

  1. What is the cost if we do nothing?

  2. What is the opportunity if we solve?

  3. How will we know we have been successful?

  4. When do we need to resolve?

Assertive communication is not just about telling. It is about getting curious and knowing the best questions to ask. These types of questions will facilitate conversations that really matter.

BOLD questions assess risk.

BOLD questions make us accountable.

BOLD questions surface what's important.

BOLD questions get results.

Don't leave a conversation without asking the BOLD questions.


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