Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Power of a Question

By geralt on Pixabay
Often the best answer to a question is a question. Of course, there's no need to devolve into a Rosencrantz and Gildenstern game of back and forth.

People may come to you all the time with problems, questions, or just generally seeking wisdom or advice. Your inclination, like mine, may be to blurt out the first thing that pops into your head, taking the (slightly arrogant) route in believing, "They asked me for my opinion, therefore they know that I am capable of solving their problem."

I'd encourage you to take a separate route the next time. Ask a question. Here are some you could try:
  • The Clarifier - Ask them for additional details. Whatever the situation, try to get a little more information before you answer.
  • The Deadline - Buy some time, not just to procrastinate or stall, but to actually put together a thoughtful response, then do it. Understand what the true deadline of the ask is.
  • The Throwback - If someone asks you for a solution to a problem, often the most effective question is, "What do you think we should do?" (Tweet This)
  • The Repeater - Make sure you understand by restating the problem in the form of a confirmation question. "So you are basically saying...?"
  • The History Lesson - Ask "What have you done about this?"
  • The Call - The opposite of a history lesson. "What do you plan to do?"
Often one or more of these questions will either drive you to a better solution to their problem, or it will drive them and empower them to work it for themselves.

So what other questions could you ask? Let me know.