We have all kinds of angles and questions to interview a potential employee. However, once you become colleagues, the way you interact can have enormous impact on the way the guy next to you looks at you. Over the last years, I’ve collected some questions which will help build deeper and more powerful connections with the people you work with. Lets dive in!

1. Can you tell me more about that?

This happend to us all the time: someone drops an idea at your desk. It might touch something you’ve created or wanted to fix for a long time. It might be something completely new. Your first response: “No, that is not going to work, because …”, “Yeah, I’ve been willing to change this for a long time, but …” or “Don’t start with that, we still need to think about this more before we start work on this”.

You’ll be a better co-worker and motivator by being interested in this new idea. It doesn’t harm you in any way to at least think about it for a minute. No one is going to look back at the previous solution (which was obviously created under time pressure or without the knowledge you have now). Ask questions and get to the bottom. This brings me to the next question:

2. Ok, let’s try that!

Sometimes you don’t have the time to deeply invest in a new idea. Instead of shooting it down (“We shouldn’t be doing this now, because …”, try this: de-attach yourself and pass on the opportunity to learn and to create. The next time you feel resistance towards a new idea, shut down your inner critic and give the other person a chance to prove his idea.

3. What can I do to improve this?

Receiving feedback on something you’ve built can be tough. Especially when you put a ton of time into it. In other occasions, you just want to get stuff done and receiving feedback feels like it is slowing you down.

Starting a conversation by specifically asking what you can do to improve a piece of work takes the edge off. You are prepared to receive remarks on how to be better. The other person is invited to work with you to make something that is truly good stuff. This is also a very good exercise for people who are new in your team or even people you interview for a new job. Let them review your code and point out things that can be done better. You’ll definitely learn something.

4. I’ll do it!

People have lots of ideas. It’s easy to blame, point fingers or waste a lot of time arguing about the details of a problem without actually coming up with a solution.

If you encounter something, take responsibility and create a possible solution for the problem. Prototypes are ok, as long as you ship something. Invite others to collaborate once you have a working prototype. This is also a great way to get started with the new guy.

5. Can you help me?

Everyone encounters problems during their work. While it can be rewarding to lock yourself up and come up with a solid solution after a couple of days, don’t be afraid to ask for help or suggestions. More often than not this will make the solution better and you’ll probably get to know new things about your colleague.

6. What would you propose?

If your co-worker asks you for help on a particular subject, hold your horses for a moment. Don’t let your ego speak and blurt out a quick reply with your obviously perfect solution. Instead, think about the problem at hand for a couple of seconds and ask questions. It will lead to new insights for both of you.