The answers for your next beginning are most likely in found in the questions you ask another. But how do we get better at asking truly great questions.
This week’s Inspire Me quote is from scientist and inventor Charles Proteus Steinmetz:
“No man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.”
Research has shown that we tend to ask the most questions around age 4 or 5. As we get older, we form presuppositions about how the world works and begin to rely on those presuppositions rather than challenging them. Really great questions challenge our presumptions.
Great questions, of course, depend on the purpose of the inquiry. Three purposes that Leary and Armin discussed were to deepen relationships, to resolve a problem or to satisfy curiosity. To get better at asking questions, Leary and Armin suggested:
- Take on the attitude of a beginner. Receive information as if it were your first time. Episodes 6 & 7 (see below) address this.
- Become story hungry. Everyone has a story. Develop a love to hear another’s story.
- Frame the question according to the need. A why question can push the mind to thinking toward the future. A how question can focus the mind on the present.
- Ask why in different ways. Why questions can reveal underlying motivations, increasing intimacy. However, the word “why” can often be interpreted as a challenge which only increases defensiveness. Instead, a good what question may be helpful: “What was it about that experience that was important to you?”
- Be intentional. Write down some questions before you visit with another.
- Reflect emotional cues. Some of the best questions are simply those that affirm the emotional reactions we see in others.
This week’s Challenge Me:
Think about someone you plan to meet with soon and intentionally design a couple of questions to go deeper with them. Leave a great question for us (either one you have asked or one that was asked of you) on our show notes at reinventure.me/49
Resources mentioned or related to this podcast that may be helpful to you:
- How to be a better beginner, Reinventure Me episode 6 on how to put on the mindset of a beginner.
- How to be a lifelong apprentice, Reinventure Me episode 7 on developing an approach to lifelong learning.
- Playing more than catch-up: 5 questions to inspire a friend (and yourself), Leary’s blog article suggests 5 questions you can ask another.