From elementary school through high school, I participated in a Saturday morning bowling league. I learned a lot about bowling in that league, but perhaps the most important lesson I learned while bowling was about the power of questions!
I had my ups and downs, but eventually, my bowling scores improved enough that I thought about bowling professionally after college.
I must have received an extra measure of curiosity because for as long as I can remember, I have asked a lot of questions!
After one bowling tournament, I asked about the disproportionate size of handicap given to bowlers with historically very low average scores.
Because I approached this in a respectful way, my question led to changes in the size of handicaps given in the next tournament.
This encouraging experience helped me to better understand why asking questions was so important.
Every person can boost their effectiveness by understanding three benefits associated with asking questions.
Ask questions to connect with people
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer.” – Henry David Thoreau
We enjoy having someone ask us for our opinion or advice.
And asking questions helps people feel important, and they are likely to see you as a viable solution for their problem.
Peter Falk, from the TV show Columbo, was an expert at asking great questions. He turned his disarming curiosity into a work of art as a relentless detective. He really put people at ease.
That is the reason why…
Insight: You don’t want to tell people anything that you can ask them.
Remember it is not only what you ask, it is also how you ask that will allow you to connect with people.
Ask questions to get answers
“It is better to look uninformed than to be uninformed.” – Richard Thalheimer
You only get answers to the questions you ask.
And I have found asking the right question of the right person at the right time will grant you unbelievably, powerful answers.
“The future belongs to the curious. The ones, who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out.” – Unknown
If you are at a loss for a good answer just ask the why question five times to help you uncover the root cause of a problem.
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the only one who asked why.” – Bernard Baruch
When Newton took the time to ask questions, the whole world benefited from his theory of gravity.
Ask questions to generate the best ideas
Warning: Often leaders go to great lengths to convince people of their own point of view. Rather than first asking questions AND listening to their employees’ valuable ideas and suggestions.
Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2. NIV
Powerful ideas and shared thinking come from asking the right questions and listening to the right people.
- Allows a person to escape the prison of what they think they know, and it will lead them to an interested and interesting life.
- Is likened to fishing lines thrown out from a person’s open mind…And when you have an open mind, the answers will give you a different perspective, and often, they will challenge your mindset.
“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” – Peter Drucker
Successful people continuously ask questions and have a deep desire to pick the brains of people in order to open doors to opportunities, experiences, and people.
If you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions and listen. It is the link to discovery and innovation.
Warning: I have seen leaders asking questions in an inappropriate way. They would abuse the use of their position and power to beat down their employees by asking questions and asking questions and asking questions until employees give up and conform to the leader’s point of view. This is not using questions for mutual understanding.
Well, asking questions and listening takes practice, discipline, and patience to ensure mutual understanding, but the results are worth it!
Start asking more questions and boost your effectiveness today. If you ask the right questions, and listen to the replies, you’ll connect with people, find the answers, and generate great ideas!
Have you ever had a misunderstanding with anyone – perhaps a spouse, boss, or friend? How have you used asking questions to build mutual understanding? Please leave your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with someone.