You’re not quite hitting the mark. You’re doing your best but still keep asking yourself, “Am I doing it right?”. When trying to move others, you feel like you should have all the answers but you know that you don’t. What can we do the change this, to feel more confident and hit the mark more often?
Jim Kwik, brain and learning expert, says, “The Question is the Answer”.
Let’s decode this riddle a bit. Could it really be the solution to our problems?
Questions help us understanding another’s point of view
We cannot be successful without other people. How do we get them onboard?
We uncovering new information from the other person by asking questions. This helps to reveal their view of the situation and helps you to craft a deliberate, contextualised response. They are more likely to listen because your response is relevant.
Questions allow people space to generate their own answers
Asking questions gives others the opportunity to think through and articulate their response. By coming up with the result themselves, the problem solving has been internalised and they’re much more likely to take ownership of the solution and action as a result. Your advice could be making assumptions (even though it really feels like you know best at the time). Ask enough questions and often, you don’t need to say anything else.
Questions light the way
What of our own obstacles? Asking questions of yourself is a really powerful way to get unstuck, overcome fears and figure out the next step to take, spurring action. Questions like, “What’s really holding me back?”, “Where to from here?” and “Who can I help?” can really create momentum.
Try journalling to one of these questions for a few minutes and see what comes up.
Make your work hit the bulls eye
Consider an archer. She’s at the range ready for a competition. She knows the date and where it’s held – the basics. She’s practiced too but never at this range. She could assume that this range is the same as her practice ground – but that may result in a marginal shot. Instead, she could ask questions to understand more about the environment and goals: How far away is the target? What are the weather and wind conditions? Who should she report to throughout the competition?
Armed with this information, her existing skills are likely to perform better; she is much more likely to shoot closer to the bulls eye and her results will be tallied by the person who matters.
Her ability to win the contest could literally lie in the questions she asks at the beginning.
How does this apply to business? You have the basic details of the project – where and when. You have done similar projects in the past so you could safely assume you know the general approach and fire away. While that may meet the basics needs, it’s unlikely to have you really stand out.
In the past, I have been afraid to ask questions like:
- How can I overdeliver?
- What are your goals?
- Why did you choose me specifically? and,
- How do you see this going?
I believed that these kind of questions would make me look unprepared or get sarcastic answers like, “You tell me – you’re the expert?”.
The truth is, armed with this knowledge, you can add value much more quickly, directly and specifically. This saves people’s time and attention and avoids a trial and error approach whether the results could be costly. If the client doesn’t have all the answers, it gives them space to clarify their goals and what they want, meaning you can hit the bullseye more frequently.
A good rule of thumb is to ask 5 good questions before proceeding with the proposed solution, advice or information. This ensures you have a broad understanding of the context to puts everyone is on the same page from the beginning. This sounds easy but think about it. How many questions do you usually ask at the beginning of a transaction?
As Jim Kwik said, “The question is the answer.”
Still not getting results? Jim advises, “Change the question”.
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