People Skills Image: Are You Open-Minded or Contrary? #peopleskills

People Skills Image: Do People See You as Open-Minded or Argumentative?

Questions open communication. They unearth expectations. They minimize conflict while working through disagreements. They can make you seem open-minded and highly interested. That’s a great people skills image.

Questions can also make you seem argumentative and always contrary. What makes the difference?

People Skills Image: Image is picture of question marks.

People Skills Image: Argumentative vs Probing. Image by Valerie Everett via Flickr.

Image by Valerie Everett via Flickr Creative Commons License.

People Skills Image: Open-minded vs. Argumentative & Contrary

  1. Open-minds ask open-ended questions. Who, what, when, how explore others’ views. Argumentative questions load to one position. “Don’t you think” vs. “What do you think.”

  2. Open-minds know when not to ask questions. There are times to let people talk without questioning them for details. They may be upset and need to vent. They may be overwhelmed and trying to talk it out. Not asking questions at that moment honors their needs. Else you seem argumentative and insensitive — not a good people skills image.

  3. Open-minds love to question and discover new views that change theirs. They seek clarity and possibilities vs. being right. “Where can you take me and/or where can we go together?”

  4. Open-minds show interest. Argumentative/contrary questions say “prove it to me.” How you word “why” questions makes the difference. For example, “I’m interested to know why” shows interest. “Why do you think this?” often sounds argumentative and judgmental. Not so great a people skills image.

  5. Open-minds sometimes agree. Argumentative and contrary almost always raise the opposing view. Do you know people like this? They may even pride themselves on being that way. Yet it distances them from others and grows old quickly. It can be very damaging to a career! The people skills image and message is arrogance and disconnect.

Results require open-minded relationships. Asking for feedback and reflecting on how you come across to others is a simple and powerful way to refine your people skills and sustain great relationships. It impacts teamwork, collaboration, leadership, employee engagement, and customer experience.

What open-ended questions have expanded your view? Where can I take you?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

©2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


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I invite your questions, welcome your wisdom, and look forward to working with you.
~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

4 Responses to “People Skills Image: Are You Open-Minded or Contrary? #peopleskills”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    There’s little that drives me crazier than someone masking an open mind, asking questions but really just “guiding” towards their preferred outcome. Everyone sees through it but they still do it never having learned another way other than manipulation and leadership through the contrarian perspective. Thanks for this piece, Kate. Truly highlights the difference and gives people a clear cut choice when it comes to their behavior… and to ensure it matches their intention.

    ~ Alli

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I share your passion on this topic Alli and am always pleased to read your insights. Sometimes I think our frustration with this type of behavior comes from the lack of integrity — as you say “masking an open mind” and such.

      Many thanks for adding to this discussion!

  2. Elizabeth Stanbro says:

    I have a friend who contradicts everything i say, or question i ask. For instance, one day i said something in particular might happen. She said, it might not. Or, just today i was saying that i hope it doesnt snow when i have to drive somewhere this winter. She said, “it will snow. It starts snowing in November”. It doesnt usually, but ok. Whats this about???!!!!! I find it SOOO darn infuriating!! Does she have no respect for me???!! Does she not value my opinion???!!!
    Then, one day, she tried to tell me what i was doing one week when she wasnt even there. I was recounting the events to someone and she kept saying, “No. [This] happened or [that] happened”. I dont get that either. How does she know the order of events, even the events themselvrs when she wasnt there???!!! Does she think me an idiot???!!!
    How does one deal with people like that? Why do they do it in the first place?
    Please help!!!! Shes basically a good person, and, in many ways, important in my life. I dont want to rnd the friendship, but, honestly, i dont know how much more i can take.
    Thank you.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      That is very frustrating. There could be many reasons why she does it that have nothing to do with you. Her remark “It will snow .. it starts snowing in November” tells me this is all about her need not anything about you. If I had to bet, she does this to many people not just you.

      You mention that you like her, want her in your life, and think she is a basically good person. Given that, I suggest you sit down and write out what you want her to do instead. When I coach on behavior change, it’s all about picturing the change vs. telling people they are bad. Writing it down also allows you to prepare mentally in case she starts to push your buttons when you speak to her.

      I had a friendship w/ someone who was getting under my skin. I prepared mentally in case her response to my request was not good. When time came and she started in again, I simply said (with no anger), “Please don’t do that. I like you yet I don’t like when you do this.” She then got a bit defensive and said “do what?” So I gave her a few examples. I then offered her alternate picture of how we could interact.

      She apologized. She said she was hurt that I told her yet she respected that I set limits.

      It’s important to know that you cannot control how your friend will react. I had another friend who walked away from our friendship. That’s when I realized who really wanted to be friends. Caring honesty is a sign of friendship. So be honest with care not blunt with emotion and good luck!

      Best wishes,

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