Have you ever heard a well-placed question light up a table? Or have you seen young people beam from questions that invite their talents to sparkle in ways that benefit all?
While just about anybody can learn to ask questions, it takes practice to wield them well. In other words, not all questions are equal.
Great questions tend to have two feet – one foot steps up ideas and one foot steps up people’s capabilities. Two-footed questions engage both sides of the brain.
Questions are often more talked about than engaged well, as stated at John Hopkins University.
Gary Cohen interviewed 100 leaders to harness new power from questions in his book, Just Ask Leadership. He concluded that when you question rather than merely tell, you extend people’s options and enhance their initiatives.
The opposite is also true. Question less and you arrive at dead-end streets paved with water-tight facts, and delivered to bored passers-by.
If questions then, drive beliefs into operations, what would inspire you to support a new cause where you work? What question would beam you up from water cooler resister into inspired rejuvenator?
Your questions build trust at work when they reach across differences and build goodwill – even among those who disagree. Ask your next diverse gathering for instance:
What next step would you add to this process and what can we expect as a result?
Offerings will suddenly soar much like interesting icons fly onto PowerPoint screens. Why so? People speak and feel heard in response to great questions.
Fly out of gates to win
To learn how to ask so people care, you just have to look at how you navigated your last difficult situation. Did you pose queries other people want to build on?
In innovative ventures questions become an incentive to whisk curiosity out of the gates at the start. They drive productive outcomes and land you in a winners’ circle at the other end.
But what about those choice questions that sustain ongoing wonder here? We’ve all seen those sprints that start with promise but then fizzle out like a campfire on a rainy night.
What question prevents mental stagnation and what questions add steel?
The brain on questions
Imagine starting your day tomorrow by looking at the first part of the day with a what-if kind of questions.
Then see your day end with a where-to-from-here question.
If you agree that enthusiasm will likely follow, you’ll also see how serotonin adds wellbeing to brains that question.
Now consider how your brain shuts down with cortisol – that dangerous chemical that rushes in from gotcha questions.
No wonder new opportunities open to you with 2-footed questions – and shut you out when you exclude right or left brain. No wonder all questions are not equal.
What question could launch your day into a winner’s circle?
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