Over the last few weeks we’ve shared our thoughts on the importance of questions. You can transform conversations, relationships, and even organizational culture with the power of questions.
Here are five awesome question strategies:
- Rather than worrying about solving the problem, spend time shaping the question. As Einstein said, If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
- Give an observational compliment. A genuine compliment is always appreciated. Take it up a notch by adding a sincere question. For example, “You are consistently sharing new, interesting ideas. I appreciate that you are so well informed. What are your best learning resources?”
- Stay humble, maintain a learning or growth mindset. The smartest, most successful people are not the ones who think they have all the answers. As Frank Lloyd Wright said, An expert is someone who has stopped thinking because he “knows.”
- Change it up with a question rhythm! Ask a question, another question and then make a statement. This is a powerful conversational question strategy. Here is how it works, “what is the most interesting thing that happened over the last week?” They answer, “I ran the NYC marathon.” Then you ask a follow up question like, “what inspired you to run a marathon?” which demonstrates you are listening. Follow that up with a statement that connects to what was shared. For example, “I started training for a marathon a few years ago and got an injury which prevented me from running so I’ve started swimming regularly.” This keeps you from appearing like an interrogator as you ask questions and creates points of connection.
- Use questions to open your mind. Questions open the mind to what’s possible, answers close the mind. Both questions and answers have a place; use questions when you want to move into a new place. Make a list of questions rather than a list of actions or answers. What if…Why can’t we…Questions create change.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. -Albert Einstein