by Jim Bruce
Today’s Tuesday Reading begins a short series of readings on the subject of asking questions. It was Voltaire who said,
“It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers.”
Mark Suster, entrepreneur turned venture capitalist said it this way: “The ability to ask questions effectively is one of the most important skills in business as is the ability to actively listen.” Yet, these skills are not widely taught anywhere. It’s estimated that 70-80% of our kids’ dialogue is question-driven, yet their parents’ dialogues are only 15-20% question-driven. And, this appears to be true in all aspects of one’s life.
An obvious question we might ask then is why do adults stop asking questions. Several answers have been suggested:
Many of the times when we don’t ask, we make assumptions. And, assumptions can be wrong leading to all manner of unforeseen consequences. (Every time I see the word “assume,” I remember the comment of a wise man: When you make an assumption you always create an opportunity to make an “ass” out of “u” and/or “me.” It always makes me stop and think, just a bit more.)
Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and author of Simply Effective, suggests that there are three areas where improved questioning can strengthen a leader’s effectiveness:
In the next two Tuesday Readings, we’ll continue exploring the subject of asking questions. In the meantime, think about questions you might ask in each of these three areas and begin to try them out. And, look for opportunities to ask questions instead of simply making assumptions. More next time.
Have a great week. . . jim
1. Mark Suster, Asking Questions More Effectively.
2. Ron Ashkenas The Art of Asking Questions.