The Power of Questions
A great deal of business hinges around the passing of information. As an executive, daily you find yourself asking for reports, metrics, and updates to inform your decision-making. You will likely have to provide answers to many questions throughout your day and unlike lawyers, doctors or journalists probably have not received much training in the art of asking good questions. However, the ability to ask good, clear, and concise questions is a gift from you to those you work with.
An organization benefits greatly from asking good questions, from initial job interviews to the daily sort of teamwork necessary to keep operations running smoothly. Questions allow you to empower, engage, and enrich a person’s life as you give them the gift of discovery. Answers can short-circuit this discovery phase and rob a person of personal growth. Research has shown that taking time to ask questions has a greater level of execution because the employee is much more likely to follow through because they now have emotional ownership of the idea. A good question gives more than the answer, it empowers someone to learn how, why and a deeper level of understanding is given, all these benefits in addition to the solution.
Jesus was a master at asking questions. In fact, Jesus was asked 183 questions in the gospels, but he only answered 3 directly (John 18:37, Luke 11:1, Matthew 22:36-37) This was one of the most frequent tools Jesus used to disciple his followers. He commended them for their personal revelation and then empowered them to do something with the answer. Look at this example from Matthew 16:9:
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
Peter became the leader of the first New Testament Church. Peter is commended for his personal revelation and released into his purpose. It is interesting that the disciples were ordered not to tell anyone, for salvation is a result of a personal revelation.
To ask a good question, you must be a good listener
One of the first keys to asking better questions is to become a better listener. James 1:19 offers the advice that we should be “Slow to speak quick to listen.” Chris Voss (former FBI lead negotiator) in his book “Never Split the Difference” says: “Listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do.” It goes beyond an exchange of information, listening improves our emotional intelligence which leads us to ask better questions, it is a virtuous cycle. When we listen to someone, it enhances our ability to collaborate on a meaningful level.