What if we asked more questions?

I am reading a book by Warren Berger called A More Beautiful Question.  In it he shares a study from the Right Question Institute tracking kids use of questions over time that identified a trend of students using questions less as reading and writing skills increased.  The use of questions peaks at around the age of 3, and by the age of 18 it is only used 1/3 as often as reading or writing.

From 2009 A Nation's Report Card.

From 2009 A Nation’s Report Card.

For parents, you are probably not surprised because you have lived through the WHY stage of three year olds and the grunting teenager.

This fascinates me, because I see this in adults as I work with leaders in their development and those that have gone through a career transition.  Too often EGO gets in the way of building the relationships needed to be successful in their next role.  One sign of EGO is the need to tell vs ask.  Think of that – I can read/write/Google (i.e. Figure it out) = EGO response to not knowing something.  As leaders, we battle our EGO overtaking us by leveraging the knowledge of our team to solve problems.  I believe one of the most important skills to battle EGO for adults/leaders is to learn is the ability to ask questions AND listen for the answer.  We do that by mastering the use of GREAT Questions over GOOD Questions.  Here are some examples:

GOOD Question:  Have you considered x and y as solutions?   GREAT Question:  What other solutions did you explore?

GOOD Question:  Why did this happen?   GREAT Question:  What has to happen next to make this problem go away?

GOOD Question:  How was your weekend?    GREAT Question:  What one word would you use to describe your weekend?  (What is the story behind that word?)

GOOD Question:  What do you want to share with the group before we start our meeting?       GREAT Question:  What is one personal best and one professional best you have to share with us?

My basic rule is to always start questions with What or How – that does not always make you perfect, but it makes you closer to perfect.  It is also important to be ready with – tell me a little more about that? or Tell me a little bit more about what options you considered?  Then listen.  The metric for you is to have a ratio of questions to statements of 5 to 1.

Hopefully you have already answered the question What if we asked more questions? 🙂

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