Human Relations Principle #25: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

(“No one likes to take orders.”)


(This is the twenty-fifth in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*

To be an effective leader, ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

When we ask questions, instead of giving orders, we give people the opportunity to do things themselves instead of taking away their accountability by telling them to do things; let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes. Give suggestions, not orders by asking questions like:

  • “Have you considered this . . . ?”
  • “Do you think that . . . will work?”
  • What do you think of this . . . ?
  • Maybe if we were to do it this way . . . it would be better. What do you think?

A technique like that makes it easy for a person to correct errors. A technique like that saves a person’s pride and gives him or her a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion.

Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued. They are more apt to approach the situation with a “We can do it” attitude.

Be an effective leader by asking questions instead of giving direct orders.

Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,



* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.

Other articles within this series you may enjoy:

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

6 Ways to Make People Like You

12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

9 Ways to Be a Leader:

How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

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