And ask a question instead. Here’s why.
The book I’m reading this week, “Socrates on sneakers”, discusses the art of asking good questions.
I received the book from a good friend of mine who knows I’m passionate about the power of asking great questions.
Great questions differentiate great leaders from good managers
We, human beings, don’t like asking questions. For many reasons, varying from ego to fear to impatience and incompetence.
A big factor is that we LOVE talking about ourselves (breaking news).
Don’t believe me?
Here’s a tiny little to do for today.
It won’t take much time, and it’s actually fun to do.
Just observe and listen to any conversation between two people. Watch the conversation unfold. It can be as simple as two family members discussing at the dinner table.
What very likely will happen is that you will witness a double monologue instead of a dialogue.
You’ll witness people interrupt, talk over each other and clearly not pay attention to the other person’s message.
That’s how we’ve programmed ourselves over time. There’s never time enough; there’s too much stress and anxiety, and we’ve made ourselves uncomfortable with silence and pause.
Any human being will benefit from asking good questions. That includes asking ourselves questions.
A good question makes people think, advances conversations, and creates space for progress.
“A good question creates movement.”Socrates on Sneakers, Elke Wiss
Elke Wiss, the author of the book, discusses an interesting dialogue exercise. People are asked to write down one thing that irritated them in the last two weeks, ready to discuss with their dialogue partner.
The partner can ask one question about the irritation. But not before one minute has passed after the first person has shared the irritation. Both persons have to keep silent for sixty seconds.
A few things happen.
People find it hard not to start talking immediately.
The sixty seconds of silence is uncomfortable and creates nervous laughter.
More importantly, upon reflection, all people participating in the exercise indicate that the question they asked after one minute was better than the question they thought of immediately asking.
Taking the time to think about the question improves the question’s quality and therefore advances the conversation faster to a better level.
It’s no rocket science. But we don’t do it. Because we don’t have the time and discipline to do it well.
I’m on a mission here.
And I’m part of the mission myself.
My family knows I do like asking questions. I often do. We often have great conversations at the dinner table because all of us have engaged in asking questions.
But if my mindset is not right, I’m as bad as the people I describe in this daily insight. When my ego is approaching the top of Mount Everest, I can’t wait to interrupt and make my point.
It’s only when I’m calm, not rushed, and have the discipline to truly listen to the other person I do better in asking questions.
All the evidence shows that we grow, and our lives improve when we take the time to listen and ask great questions.
Asking great questions is a constant learning process that engages the mind. And if the mind is not engaged and serene, it won’t happen.
The next time you want to come up with answers, ask yourself a few questions first.
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