The power of a good question

I have to admit that I struggle with this one. But the great thing is the way in which I struggle has changed over time.

In the past, my challenge was in asking the wrong questions. Are there really wrong questions?

In schools and when you are learning, you tend to hear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question or a wrong question. Well, I believe that there really aren’t stupid questions – all questions are asked because someone doesn’t know. But the person doesn’t know because she’s not been in a situation that has given her the clarity and wisdom that comes with experience.

Not knowing something that is fact-based is merely that – you don’t know. And then you do. But wisdom is not quite the same.

And this is where I link it back to questions. The power of a good question is that it directs you in the path you need to be on. A bad question rarely does that.

But whether a question is good or bad is quite subjective. I think the power of a good question is when it helps you find the answers to help you address your issues. A bad question, I feel, is one which may not necessarily help you address the issue or solve the problem –  it just keeps you mired in it for a long time.

The primary challenge however, is not within the question but within our own desire.

See, the fact is this : many of you don’t want to ask the right question because secretly, you know the answer. You just don’t want to have to confront it. For a variety of reasons, confronting the answer may :-

  • heighten your sense of vulnerability;
  • cause you to deal with your fear or loss;
  • put you down a path you don’t want to go down;
  • leave you feeling more hopeless, sad or fearful.

But despite the possibilities above, and these possibilities are very real for many of you, there is power in a good question.

When you are faced with a huge challenge, when you have to deal head-on with a problem you feel has no solution, the power of a good question can help you move to the next level. And we all want to do that because there are many positives associated with moving to the next level.

Firstly, you are taking action which makes you feel strong and to some extent, in control. Secondly, you will be in motion. No one wants to feel that things are in statis. Thirdly, you are making a decision. That level of proactivity is great for the mind… and the soul.

But there are so many challenges in asking a good question :

1. You have to know when to ask the right question. Asking the right question at the wrong time may sometimes, be the wrong question.

2. You have to learn how to ask good follow up questions to the original question. It’s not a gift. It is a skill that you can master.

3. You have to know who to ask this question of. Too obvious? Well, worth thinking about.

4. Closely related to what question to ask is why you need to ask the question in the first place.

So, I won’t beat about the bush here – asking good questions is hard. But if this is something you want to master, it will be a skill well worth developing.

In the past, I used to ask some pretty dreadful questions. Questions like :

  • Why is …happening to me? This is unfair.
  • I don’t deserve … Why didn’t …happen last year or to someone else?
  • Why does she behave like …?
  • Why can’t she listen/do/hear/be …?

The issue with these questions is that they focus on your problem. Why are you in this mess? Why did this happen to you, and not someone else? There are very rarely, quick and easy answers to questions like these.

However, consider if you were to ask yourself these questions :

  • What is happening to me?
  • What options do I have?
  • Has this happened to me before?
  • Why is this recurring?
  • What do I need to learn from this?
  • How can I manage around these problems?

Here, the distinct difference is that these questions are more focused not on your situation, but on how you can solve it. They are focused on your solution.

I won’t deny that there are times it’s hard to confront the things you would much rather not.

Consider that your choice to do so will allow you to grow, learn, gain an opportunity and leverage your experience. And that is well worth your time, risk and vulnerability.

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About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

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