What would you say is the most under-valued and potentially powerful tool any person or company can have to drive their success?
What about the ability to ask a great question?
We Need to Appreciate and Value Questions
At the core of it, question-asking is often not a heralded or rewarded behavior for many people and company cultures…perhaps most.
To the “Presenters” who prefer not to listen, being questioned is often seen as an inconvenient “nuisance”. Some may even see it as rude.
To the potential “Askers” asking a question may require them to overcome their fears of embarrassment and vulnerability that they are often not ready to overcome.
The absence of quality questions at critical moments is an all-too-common occurrence… often with a significant cost.
In many conversations, people speak past one another and then accept direction without confirmation or alignment. Asking great questions can help uncover the real intent and meaning behind what is said.
Great questions help us understand each other better and lead us toward better solutions and efficiency and success.
Imbuing people and company cultures with the desire to hear and the ability to ask great questions increases validation, innovation, and understanding.
History shows us that many terrible strategic and operational failures occurred simply because people didn’t ask the most basic questions or people didn’t listen to the answers.
If someone had asked the simple question “Are we measuring in millimeters or inches?” The Mars Climate Orbiter could have avoided a $125MM error
Or if someone had asked two basic questions: “Do they Know We are coming?” And “Can boats land there?” no soldiers might have been killed or captured at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
The world needs more great & brave questions and question askers. Great and brave questions help us:
- Know what we don’t know but should know
- Better understand what has been said or assumed
- Challenge assumptions and conventions that may no longer be valid
- Avoid depending on assumptions and leaps of faith
- Inculcate accountability in the leaders and teams of our endeavors
- Make sure we are thinking & challenging instead of just following blindly
We Need More Brave Powerful Question Askers
Once when we were young, we all excelled at asking questions. We were so proficient that our adults told us to “stop asking so many questions!” We all had this power childhood skill & habit, but many of us have lost this skill as adults.
To be great question askers as adults, we must redevelop and refined our skills.
Like developing any ability, we need to do our exercises and put our question asking “muscles” under stress and repeat critical motions to develop strength and dexterity.
Without enough exercise, our ability will atrophy, and we may not have the ability to come up with the next great question when we need it most.
But even if we have the ability to ask questions we still may not. Perhaps because we already know everything? Or perhaps because we just don’t care?
It is certainly not because we already know everything…. and I do think most of us actually do care. I suspect that the real reasons we don’t ask our questions is that 1) we give too much credit to others who say they know the answers or 2) we think the effort/risk of asking our questions is too great, and 3) we’ve just forgotten how.
To the first reason, I say that you deserve to understand… hold your leaders and presenters accountable to explain fully so you and everyone else understands. Don’t just accept the answer if it doesn’t make sense.
To the second reason, I say get better at being vulnerable… People suck at being vulnerable. To ask a sincere question necessarily reveals that we don’t know everything. And that is something that many of us are not trained or willing to reveal to anyone. Learning to say/accept that “I don’t know” and/or “I don’t understand” is powerful juju.
To the third reason, I say practice, practice, practice.
To achieve well-developed muscles, you have to go to the gym or attend your first training session.
To develop your own great question-asking skills, you also need the proper insights and coursework. And as luck would have it, your local “Marketing Gym” is having a class for you to hone this skill.
On Thursday, September 24, as part of AMA Madison’s Annual Conference, Small Business Coach AJ Sue, will be presenting a keynote session entitled: Questions?…Anyone? …Anyone? ….Anyone?
- Asking great questions is a skill that depends on habit, experience, and training
- Great question-asking is the foundation of great learning
- 3 key takeaways to practice and use to develop into a stronger question asker
Register today for this virtual event and have access to this and 10 other sessions designed to help you renew with intention.
Who is AJ Sue?
He’s a Husband, Dad, and Small Business Coach. A woodworker, rollerblader, & bacon lover. But mostly, just a SUPER CURIOUS GUY who asks a lot of powerful questions to help people deal with their head-junk so they can have more fun and be more successful in life and business.