Daniel Newton, University of Iowa – How to make ‘Jeopardy!’ work for your career

This quiz show could help you in your career.

Daniel Newton, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa, says “What is Jeopardy?”

Daniel Newton is an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of speaking up at work and how employees stay engaged as they transition between work tasks. International Space Station, isolated crews in Houston, and cosmonauts in the Mars training facility in Moscow.

How to make ‘Jeopardy!’ work for your career

Do you want your boss to be more open to your ideas at work? You might try taking a lesson from the game show Jeopardy—and phrase your input in the form of a question.

I was recently part of a research team that found that this simple solution—phrasing a work-related suggestion as a question (what we refer to as voice inquiry)—tends to get better results than making a direct and assertive statement. So instead of saying “we need to have fewer meetings to increase productivity,” you’re likely to have better luck saying “have we thought about whether fewer meetings would increase productivity?”

Our research team surveyed hundreds of workers and managers in the U.S., the U.K., and China. We found that managers were more likely to agree with ideas that employees phrased as questions. So those who asked, “should we look into a new client management software” were taken more seriously than those who directly stated, “We need a new client management software.”

Why is voice inquiry more readily embraced? Because it elicits a higher sense of power in leaders that empowers them rather than challenges them.

The effect of voice inquiry is especially strong when pitching ideas to dominant managers—the kind of people who want to be right—because the indirect questions don’t come across as pushy but rather puts the ball in the manager’s court and increases the likelihood that they will green light the idea.

So if you’re not feeling heard at work, try this simple tactic. Frame your ideas in the form of a sincere question. I think you’ll find greater reception that empowers others and gets your ideas endorsed by management.

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