If the questions we ask have such a huge influence on our lives, why don’t we ask great questions all the time? Wouldn’t it be worth the time and effort to ask great questions? I believe the answer to this last question is yes. But before we settle on that answer, maybe we should ask another question.
“What gets in the way of us asking great questions?” I’d like to offer a few reasons I have learned through experience.
DEFAULT MODE. We often ask the questions that come to our mind by default and never really challenge the validity or the strength of the questions we ask. We are pretty loosy-goosy when it comes to formulating questions. We choose the path of least resistance.
Asking questions is like a muscle. The more we learn to ask great questions, the easier it will be. But for most of us, we ask the question that comes to the top of our mind and allow that to be the dominant question that creates the mental environment in which our solution (or lack of one) will live.
CAN’T SLOW DOWN. Rather than live by the default questions, why don’t we develop better questions? It’s a great idea, but most people won’t take the time. Developing quality questions takes quality time. It doesn’t just happen. Depending on the circumstances, creating great questions may take stopping, sitting down with a pen and paper, and thinking deeply about the situation. It may involve gathering a group of people (who, themselves, are highly busy) and having a brainstorming session.
Great questions that create value take time to develop. Sometimes they can be developed over the course of half of an hour. Other times those questions will only come after years of experience in knowing what questions are worthy of asking.
THE ALTERNATIVE IS EASIER. I have taught hundreds of classes and workshops that were unique and not “templatized” where I could repeat or repurpose the content again. If I were to do it right, I would take the time to understand the audience, the material, and then develop questions that would draw the most effective answers out of those in attendance.
But the alternative – telling the audience the facts and what to think – is much easier. It’s the difference between talking at them and talking with them – between teaching a lesson and teaching people. This is where parent-child lectures are born. Being the parent, you know what is right and you tell it to your child. This is so much easier and quicker than sitting down and asking strategic questions to help them come up with their own answers.