I seem to spend most of my time asking questions. I do so in order to seek answers. Otherwise, why ask them?
There is a huge slice of irony in that opening salvo, which is intended. I have spent the past few days reading an RFP for a client and asking myself lots of questions. I realise I’ve been thinking about questions a lot for almost my entire life.
It’s not that people don’t come to me for answers – they do – it’s that I tend to hold back on what I want to say, so I can go away and ask questions of their questions. Mostly this happens subconsciously. It’s what fuels my brain, as well as taking up a fair bit of my waking life.
It’s led me to consider if there are common themes in the questions we ask ourselves – not the big philosophical ones, but the ongoing conversations we have about what we’re doing day-to-day at work. Personally, I find myself constantly asking why (not so much out loud, as people tend to treat that as ‘being negative’) and then attempting to find the answer that best fits, or creates the best outcome.
I like to ask obvious questions, too. Yes, it annoys people; however, I’ve found it to ensure clarity in the answer, which will be delivered in simple terms and plain English. And when people do that, they often let slip something they’ve unconsciously chosen to omit from their presentation or document.
It’s really useful. Even if you only do it to your own thinking. Take a step back, make sure you’re not jumping to conclusions or heading down the wrong path. It slows things down a little, but you shouldn’t be doing these things at the end of something. If you are it’s already shaky, if not downright broken and destined to fail.
I wish more people asked obvious questions. I see it fuelling change, stopping what Neil Perkin referred to today as ‘Protecting Against Obsolete Beliefs’.
Two final questions: What do you ask yourself? What should be asking of other people?
Let’s stoke up the fires with some fuel for 2015.