Why questioning is a powerful tool to unlock value in organizations - Deepstash
Why questioning is a powerful tool to unlock value in organizations

Why questioning is a powerful tool to unlock value in organizations

  • Encourages exchange of ideas and boosts learning.
  • Feeds innovation and creative thinking.
  • Builds rapport & trust within the team.
  • Reduces business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THEARTICLE

The best way to answer

The way we answer can encourage trust and information sharing.

It's about choosing the right balance between privacy & transparency - decide 'before' a conversation what information is to be shared & what kept private.

  • What to share 👉 Think carefully whether refusing to answer tough questions would do more harm than good. Transparency can sometimes be a very powerful bonding agent.
  • What to keep private 👉 Negotiation sometimes requires handling hard questions without lying. In such cases, answering a question you wish had been asked, can be effective. 

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Emotional intelligence and asking questions

Asking questions improves our emotional intelligence (EI) and with improved EI we become better questioners - it's a virtuous cycle.

“Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” - Dale Carnegie

Research over the past 50 years suggests people have conversations to accomplish some combination of two major goals: 

  • information exchange (learning) and 
  • impression management (liking).

Recent research shows asking questions achieves both.

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5 Keys to asking better questions

Asking a lot of questions (lots but not too many) unlocks learning and improves interpersonal bonding.

  • TYPE 👉 People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions (solicit more information) tend to feel respected and heard because it signals that you care & are listening. This type of question comes naturally to us anyways & so don't need much effort on our part.
  • FRAMING 👉 Open-ended questions are useful in uncovering information or learning something new. It doesn't force answerers into a yes-or-no corner making people feel interrogated. Closed questions work best when you don't want to leave the other person much wiggle room; eg. tense negotiations.
  • SEQUENCE 👉 During tense conversations asking tough questions (not too sensitive) first can make people more willing to open up. For building relationships, open with less sensitive questions and escalate slowly.
  • TONE 👉 People open up more easily when asked questions in a casual way. They also tend to be more forthcoming when given an escape hatch or “out” in a conversation. That's why teams and groups find brainstorming sessions so productive.
  • PRACTICE 👉 Like everything else, we become better questioners through practice - asking, learning, tweaking.

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RELATED IDEAS

Avoiding sensitive questions comes at a cost

Asking sensitive questions can help build stronger relationships. However, we should know how to seek useful information while minimising the discomfort we feel.

We often avoid asking questions that feel too sensitive or personal. But, when negotiating a salary or finding a place to stay, knowing how much a coworker earns or how much a friend pays in rent can be very useful.

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Asking useful questions require practice

Inexperienced questions such as "I'm thinking about [action]. What do you think?" are seldom answered because answering would take too much effort.

This is because naive questions lack the necessary context while failing to respect the recipient's time, energy and attention. Instead, it transfers responsibility for the end result from the questioner to the recipient. If you want helpful answers, it is worthwhile to learn to ask better questions.

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The Little Known Skill Of Conversations

Asking good, effective questions is a powerful but little known tool to get the most helpful information, facilitate learning and improve interpersonal bonding.

In many cases, asking the right questions depends on complex dynamics and type of interaction, but there are some general guidelines that can commonly be applied to the conversation.

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