Have you really thought about the questions you ask lately?
We ask questions for many reasons; to get information, to check in on people, to show we are knowledgeable, to show we care or to clarify understanding.
What we rarely think about when we ask questions, is that how we ask our questions, impacts the answers we get.
Our ability to ask thought provoking and powerful questions as leaders is instrumental for personal growth, creativity and effective teamwork.
However, very few of us pay any attention to how we formulate our questions, and we end up asking closed, leading questions even when we would benefit from getting new perspectives and input.
But how do I ask thought provoking questions? You might ask.
The easiest way to get started is to focus on asking open ended questions. Challenge yourself; start asking open-ended questions and pay attention to the difference in answers you get, compared to asking closed questions. Below you can see a few examples of how you can change your way of asking:
From: Do you like this idea? To What do you think of this idea?
From: Could XYZ be a solution to our problem? To: How do you think we can do to solve this problem?
By asking open-ended, thought-provoking questions, you challenge the receivers’ mind-set and help them think in new ways. When you start asking open-ended questions you will soon see a difference in the answers you get; thoughtful responses.
Let your curiosity guide you when you ask questions – what are you genuinely interested in knowing more about? These are the questions you should ask – and ask them in an open-ended way showing your curiosity and interest. Remember, what you ask questions about is what you will see more of.
Many people naturally ask closed questions, so in the beginning it might help to prepare some of the questions ahead of time and write them on a piece of paper.
The main thing, as with everything else you haven’t mastered yet is to get started and practice, practice, practice.
Good luck with all your thought-provoking questions and enjoy the inspiring answers and conversations you will have.