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A good loan officer has conversations with prospects and clients; a great loan officer asks quality questions and listens to the answers.

To help you be awesome at asking questions, here are some of my favorite ways to engage whoever you are talking to so you can learn… learn what? How that person is thinking, what they really want, how they are choosing to claim the life of their dreams… you can learn a lot by being curious and listening.

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about being curious in a pushy, meddle-y, arse-y way… this isn’t about stalking someone through a conversation! Instead, this is about being genuinely interested in understanding the world from their view to help you help them get what they really want.

You can use a mix of question styles, depending on the situation. One of my personal favorites is…

Ask dumb questions. You cannot possibly be an expert in everything. You can’t learn unless you’re willing to have the mind of a beginner. And people like to be experts and share what they know – it’s a win-win. So don’t be afraid to ask the obvious because maybe it isn’t.

I also like asking open questions, like ‘can you tell me about X?’ or ‘why would you say X?’ or ‘Describe your thoughts on X…’. This gives your conversation partner a way to share what they know beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer (which are called closed questions, by the way). Closed questions are when you want a precise answer – ‘do you have a down payment?’ However, most of the time, you want to create openings for people to share in your conversation. Within their answers are the keys to how they perceive the world and what they really want, so listen closely for those clues.

If your conversation isn’t going anywhere, you can ask leading questions. ‘Would you agree that X?’, ‘Is it fair to say that X?’ or ‘Are you thinking that X?’ are examples of leading questions. The other person may not agree with what you’ve just set up in your conversation and that’s totally cool! You WANT them to have an opinion and to share that with you. Asking ‘loaded’ questions like these will get the person to either agree or disagree and keep things moving – ideally, in the direction you want the conversation to go.

When you are writing promotions, you can ask yourself the ‘Bigger, Better, Faster’ questions to help get copy flowing. By this, I mean things like ‘what about this property makes people dream bigger?’, ‘what’s better about this deal?’, or ‘how can my process help people get in their new homes faster?’. Basically, your answers will address the ‘so what?’ question – why something matters. And that can make your ad and promotional copy more interesting, engaging and real.

Remember to keep your questions tight. If you’re asking a question that goes longer than a minute to get out of your mouth, it’s too long. Actually, that’s a good point to make in case you are being interviewed by the media or on a podcast – keep your answers concise and to the point. Limit yourself to maybe two minutes if you are the interviewee to keep the energy high in that dialogue.

If somebody doesn’t understand the question you just asked, try rephrasing it. It might be a vocabulary thing or maybe they don’t share your frame of reference. After all, when you ask if someone has a small down payment, like $50k, not everyone might think that’s a small down payment. I’ve even had clients who didn’t know what a FICO score was – so they had no idea what I was asking them for in that moment! Sometimes our work as loan officers includes more education than we know.

Lastly, when you ask a question, be prepared to stop talking. When there is silence, the other person usually feels like they need to fill that silence. That also gives your conversation partner the space to extend their answer(s) without feeling pressured. And some people think a little slower so they need time to process. That applies to introverts and highly-sensitive people, by the way… I read somewhere that their thoughts literally go through longer conduits in their brain so it takes more time for them to process information. The good news about that is they also get the nuances of a situation more than a faster thinker, who is usually on to the next thought right away.

You might be surprised to know that I tend to be an introvert… I’m a high-functioning introvert! But, especially when I was younger, I wasn’t the first guy wearing the lampshade at the party. Now, that’s a different story! (Come to the next Mastermind to find out about that!)

Seriously, you need to know who you are in asking questions too. Know yourself and you have the big audacious awesome key to connecting with others more meaningfully and effectively. And, as you know, connection is everything in our business.

I’ll start… I asked a waitress if I could see a menu please, and she said, “I don’t have to tell you about the men I please!” (Ha!) Ok – Join us on Facebook and tell me about your best questions, when you got an unexpected answer and, of course, a good joke – we all need to hear from you!

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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