[00:00:01] Asking questions in American culture is pretty common. For any of you who work with U.S. Americans from outside the U.S., you might be wondering about this.
Why do Americans ask us so many questions?
Listen to the video below or read the text below the video.
When American clients ask us questions….
do they doubt our expertise?
do they not believe what we are saying?
do they not trust us?
are they putting us on trial with judge and jury?
are they making us defend our thesis? Is this a viva?
I promise you in most of the cases that’s not the case. I’m Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys here to enlighten you on this topic, as I’ve worked with over 50 companies in India that have relationships with U.S. clients.
But before I get into that, you might see the wonderful and beautiful background that surrounds me. I’m in Antelope Island State Park in the state of Utah, in the U.S. What you see behind me here, that blackish or black line, that’s a causeway. And that causeway is a road that goes over the Great Salt Lake that takes us from the mainland, so to speak, to Antelope Island. And the mountains behind me that you can see are the Wasatch Mountains. They encircle the Salt Lake Valley. We are about one hour north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Let’s look at the three reasons why U.S. clients are asking you questions. They need clarity. They’re looking for lost info and for relationship building.
Reason 1: They Need Clarity
[00:01:42] Now, of course, we need to keep in mind that our U.S. clients or managers or colleagues are working on a lot of projects, not just the ones or one that we are talking with them about. We might be working on a team of five, six, 10 people to provide one type of solution for one type of project for the U.S. client.
[00:02:07] However, they might be working on maybe five, ten more projects, coordinating all those teams, each team with five to ten people.
[00:02:17] So you can imagine how much information that they are sorting through every day. And if your team or teams are using more than one type of online platform to share that information, you can see suddenly how complex it can become.
[00:02:36] So to help them understand our context quicker and easier, it’s always better if we can provide some context to our bigger picture. It’s not just about talking about what we did yesterday, what we’re doing today, what we’re going to work on tomorrow, and our blockers. Of course, we have to do that and we have to share any strategies or ideas that we’ve tried to overcome those blockers.
[00:03:07] But we have to provide context to a bigger picture. Who else is helping me with certain tasks? What is the timeline? How is me not completing it on time or completing it on time going to help the next person on my team by name do what they need to do next to get the project moving on time? So add as much context as you can, not assuming that the manager or a client is having enough time to sort through all of the online content that we’ve provided. Yes, we would have provided all that information, but they might not have had a chance to review it yet. So we need to provide details, but again, not be too wordy.
[00:03:55] Again, I might be being too wordy here, obviously, but I want to share context to why this is so important. So if they’re asking a lot of questions about clarity, probably what you can do to solve this is, number one, think about all the content or information you’ve shared on the various online platforms over the last few days since your last status update meeting.
[00:04:29] Also, what you can do is gain your awareness during the meetings and start noting down the common questions that are being asked of you and your teammates.
[00:04:42] Have those answers ready next time. So those common questions start being reduced. As those common questions be reduced, you will see the increase of trust and camaraderie with your U.S. counterparts.
Reason 2: Looking for Lost Information
So just like they need clarity, they might need more information or they’re looking for lost information, sometimes even in our best attempts in trying to update all the different online platforms for our status updates and other information regarding other work we’re working on, we miss something. We’re all human and that’s completely fine. So they might be looking for lost information. So how can you solve this?
Before you go into your meeting think of all the content you have shared via email Slack or any of the other platforms and just think, what have I missed? Have I missed anything? Or it could again, if we go back to point number one, it could relate to something around the bigger picture or providing context around what other elements of the project we’re working on. Again, one way to reduce these kinds of questions is just noting down all kinds of questions. The client or U.S. manager is asking your team on a regular basis, not just questions for you, but listen, for the questions that are being asked of your teammates, note all those questions down and kind of be ready to answer many of those in the status update, depending on what your status update is, of course.
Reason 3: Relationship Building
And now the third part, the third reason for asking questions, relationship building. Now, you might be wondering, what does that mean? Well, you might have observed pretty quickly when working with U.S. counterparts as they like to start off calls by asking you questions about your weekend, your day. How are you doing, and through calls, they ask you other different kinds of small talk questions that are not directly related to your project. Or they might be related to your processes or brainstorming or idea generation or other things, these types of questions are important for Americans to build trust, and they are different than probing deeper into your status.
[00:07:29] What I suggest you do right now is if you feel that there’s some challenge in communication or you feel you’re being put in front of a judge and jury or on for your status updates, or that your U.S. counterparts are continually asking you for more information, even though you’ve provided a thorough status update or at least thorough from your vantage point, just go back and listen to those calls or start really gaining awareness about how you and your teammates are communicating. Note down all the common questions, note down things that you think your manager or U.S. client really want to hear in those status updates.
When do you feel that they feel satisfied and they’re not continually asking more questions?
Those are things that then you can start preparing your status updates for… messages with so that over time they become more in tune with what is wanted from …from your stakeholders.
[00:08:35] I hope that this video has provided insight into a few of the reasons why some questions are being asked during your meetings with U.S. stakeholders, as well as how to remedy some of those situations. When you start applying these skills, it will naturally increase your business acumen, your team building skills, your project coordination and management skills. All of this will naturally help your career trajectory. If you’d like more information or maybe you want to sign up your team for our Managing Client Expectations program where we really dive deep into this, you can get in touch with me. I’m Jennifer Kumar.
[00:09:25] Authentic journeys dot info
The phone numbers to reach me.
+1 385 218 0947
That’s a U.S. phone number both for a phone calling and text messaging.
[00:09:41] If you want to use WhatsApp, you can WhatsApp me and my India phone number:
+91 95 393 47 529
[00:09:53] I hope to be in touch to talk about how we can help you and your team succeed and grow your business with your U.S. counterparts and colleagues and clients. See you soon. Bye.
[The script may not be 100% grammatically correct.]