Are you asking the right questions?

Shaun Enders

With the rise of AI and 6.8 billion smartphones on the planet, you would think, every human should be a genius. I mean, we all have the capacity to operate at genius level considering Google is one click away. ChatGPT can seemingly answer anything, yet there is a barrier.

Without the right question, you cannot get the right answer. Today I want to explore curiosity and more specifically, the ability to generate the right query. Throughout my life, my most prized advancements have come from asking the right question. Some big questions like, who do I want to become in life, how to be a great father or what is ROI?

Asking the right questions is a fundamental skill in both personal and professional life. Questions serve as a powerful tool for gaining insights, understanding complex issues, and exploring new possibilities. In essence, asking the right questions is the foundation of critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Asking the right questions will benefit you in different aspects of life.

Asking the right questions helps you gain knowledge and insights. When you ask questions, you signal your curiosity and desire to learn more. You challenge your assumptions, broaden your perspective, and expand your knowledge. Asking questions also helps you clarify your understanding of a topic or situation. By seeking clarification, you can avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. As a result, you can make informed decisions and take meaningful actions based on accurate information.

You can solve the right problems. When faced with a problem, asking the right questions can help you identify the root cause of the problem and come up with effective solutions.

I have noticed in the last few years that some segments of our population identify with being a victim. You can easily become victimized when you are completing your own narrative. This happens When you don’t deep dive for clarification or further investigation.

It’s difficult to be a victim if you work on understanding where your peers or others are coming from. I had this talk with my daughter last week. We had a miscommunication, and she was frustrated with me. I have worked on remaining calm and seeking further understanding, it takes patience and being a father to a teenage girl, it takes a series of probing questions asked in different ways to make sure we progress together.

Nothing is perfect but I have long ago divorced myself from expectation. Instead, I remain curious, and I seek to understand. I believe in business and in my home life, it helps to bridge the gaps that inherently exist in everyday life.

Gathering information can help identify patterns and trends and explore different possibilities. You can also challenge assumptions and biases that might be hindering your problem-solving process. When you ask the right questions, you break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components, which can make them easier to solve.

Think about this for a moment, when you talk, there are only two ways to communicate. You are either going to assert or inquire. Asserting is stating opinions or facts. Inquiring allows you to open your mind to potential improvements or innovations. In business, the brightest leaders seem to always know what to ask and when to ask it. If you are great at asking the right questions at the right time, nicely done, it takes practice, and you should be proud. If you are still learning, I have some ideas for you.

Ask open-ended questions when possible. Stay away from yes or no questions, both in business and in life. If you find yourself a bit nervous at events where there is a propensity for small talk or a party where you don’t know anyone, I have a little trick. I remind myself to get curious. Start asking questions. Most people like to talk about themselves. Not because they are arrogant although some are, it’s just that most people don’t really get interested in other people and so there is this gap where people want to express themselves. When I meet someone one on one, I like to ask where they grew up, do they have siblings, any big vacations or cool family events planned for the year? I try to discover more about who they truly are and less about how they earn money. We can easily eventually get to our careers, but I am genuinely more interested in the person and their story.

When I am focused on business and internal company strategies, I look for our blind spot. I ask about our hiring strategy and what type of questions we are using for vetting. When looking at a potential customer, I want to know why they initially chose to work with a competitor, where are the areas we can win when competing for their business. I want to ask questions surrounding metrics, why they are important and how they move the needle for success. There are countless other questions, but you get the picture.

Without the relentless need to know, you are settling for life at face value. Things may be as they appear, but I love the phrase, trust but verify. I want to verify. I want to probe and if asked why I am doing something in life, I want to be thoughtful and intentional.

It’s challenging when I am around people who lack curiosity, who don’t ask questions, you know these people and it can be exhausting. It’s like a one-way conversation but, again, I try to live without judgement. I didn’t use to be this way but as I get older life gets easier, this is by design.

Our most prized relationships in life were built on communication. Being interested in someone’s thoughts and feelings. I have two brothers and one of them asks me how I am doing, what’s happening with the kids and how is my business going. My other brother is not there right now. It’s a little more about his world and I get it, that’s just the place he is right now. But the biproduct is, he is missing out. He doesn’t really know me or my kids. He doesn’t seem to care to know and if he’s not asking, there isn’t much I can say. Now family dynamics can be left to an entirely different conversation, but this is the power of questions. When you don’t ask them, you are saying that you simply don’t care. Whether that’s true or not.


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