Want to Be Open and updated on Reality—Try asking questions
Daily Quote: ” Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.” -M Scott Peck.
Reflection: If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way for learning. So why do we stop asking questions and give more advice or try sell our arguments at any cost. Self-protection? Fear of cognitive dissonance? Or are we just lazy learners? Most people in order to create a comfort zone and reduce unknowns in life assume they know all the main things they need to know on a subject and then go through life looking for examples and evidence to reinforce our own beliefs and view of the world. They don’t bother to ask questions because they do not want to upset their views and beliefs about life. So they don’t ask questions because would require change and pain for them. They cling to outdated beliefs and remain certain in their assumptions – yet they often end up being viewed as inflexible, dogmatic and rigid– saying stupid things like the world is flat or all those “people” who are on food stamps are lazy or do such and such. This inability to be open-minded and flexible leads to absolute thinking and limits our ability to deal with the uncertainty and inevitable changes in life.
Other people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them in a poor light. In fact asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers.
Finally some people are in such a hurry to get with things that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong off the cliff.
In many situations, checking-in by asking questions and challenging our assumptions provides us with more information and leads us to gain a better appreciation of the issues.
So how do we improve our skills and ability to ask better questions? Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other person or people chance to give broad answers and they open up matters. Examples of open questions are:
- What business are we really in, what is our added value?
- Why do you think this has happened?
- What are all the things that might have caused this problem?
- How can we reduce customer complaints?
- Why do you think he feels that way?
- What other possibilities should we consider?
Over the next week try out your skill in asking questions and then see if this doesn’t improve your ability to see people and situations with a more open-mind. Keep us informed of your progress and we can start a dialogue for all of us to feel more comfortable in living with uncertainty and change.