There are many reasons you may need to think up questions to ask women. You may need to understand women as consumers, potential friends, or how to maximize the work of a woman personal assistant. Whatever the reason, the most important thing to remember when thinking of questions to ask women is to remember they are different from men. Realize it and accept it. How women process information and respond, is very different than their male counterparts.
Women are responsible for more than half of all purchases, both major and minor in the United States. Why, then, do so many sales people of high-ticket items find it so hard to sell to them? Whether she is looking to purchase a computer, wide-screen television or a sports utility vehicle, almost any woman will tell you that she is just like her male counterpart: she wants the best item to suit her needs. With this in mind, selling to a woman requires a trip back to Salesmanship 101.
After the answers are obtained, the next step is to show the customer the best item to suit her needs. Then, you close the sale.
What do women discuss with their friends? When in the ‘getting to know you’ phase of any relationship, even a friendship, usually the same types of questions come up amongst women. Questions involving dating/marriage status typically lead the charge. Tell me about your guy. How long have you been married/ divorced? What kind of man are you looking for? The age and place in life of the woman being questioned typically determines which of these gets asked. Another question that a new friend might ask of a woman is what she does for a living. Questions about family, childhood home and schooling typically are soon to follow. These personal questions are the bread and butter of any ‘getting to know you’ conversation. However, it’s a good idea to break up all the personal stuff with questions about preferred movie genre, Beyonce or Madonna, Lost or Heroes. Most women are not going to have a problem answering any of these questions, and in fact will likely be comfortable doing so. A little common sense goes a long way. If she seems uncomfortable answering personal questions, steer the conversation to something less intimate. She will let you know when/ if she is willing to return to the more personal topics.
In the workforce, the politically correct belief is that it should not matter whether the employee is a man or a woman, a competent person will get the job done the same is another. This just isn’t true. Men and women think differently, and have different ways of completing the same task. While a man and a woman of equal competency should be able to complete a task to comparable levels of satisfaction, the outcome of that task will likely be different, and the way in which it is completed will also be different.
This is why many executives prefer to have a personal assistant of the opposite gender. This ensures that fresh ideas are always infused into the work product. When assigning a task to or eliciting an opinion from a female assistant, a male exec should ask questions that are open ended and allow for explanation of methodology. This way both sides can fully understand the task at hand and how to best combine efforts to complete it. The best type of question to start with is one that requires an open ended discussion from both parties defining what the task is. This minimizes the risk of miscommunication that can cause financial loss and loss of time. The most important question to ask during the planning phase of any project is “Why?” If your PA has a suggestion that doesn’t immediately make sense, ask why. The explanation might make you realize that her plan is the best one, or it might cement your belief that it is not doable. The important aspect of asking why is that it opens the lines of communication and allows your assistant to be heard. You will gain insight to how she thinks on certain types of tasks, and she will gain insight into how you think. The working relationship can only improve when this happens.
Another important question to ask while planning or executing a project is “how”? Many great ideas have gone nowhere because the person in charge didn’t know how to execute them. How can we cover the cost of your idea? How can we meet our deadline using your idea? How is your idea more cost efficient? These questions will ensure that you don’t reject a good idea without good reason. It can also not be stressed enough that women think about things differently than men. Whether or not it sounds sexist, it is true. Asking your female PA “why” and “how” will open up different ways of thinking and accomplishing tasks that you might not have been able to think up without her. Learning how employees think is important regardless of their gender. Direct questions requiring open ended explanation work well with most women.
When considering ways to communicate with women consumers, potential women friends and women assistants, it is imperative you understand that women have great things to offer. The key is ensuring you communicate well with them, is to make sure you’ve thought about how to communicate with them. Solidifying which questions to ask women must be considered, whether you are a man or a women used to working with only men. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.