Asking powerful questions is one of the key skills of a great leader and team member. In my client work, I see many reasons why this doesn’t happen. Often the barriers to asking questions (versus just giving the answer) involve assumptions and beliefs about yourself, the other person or the situation. To find the root cause for not asking powerful questions, I explore these (and more) potential barriers:
I am driven by the desire to help and this drives me to tell/do
I can be impatient (so give the answer)
I know I can do the work, so I just do it (and it’s not my job)
It’s hard to invest time here even though it will save time later
I don’t always listen and then am not able to work out what question they need
I don’t count to 10 (their best answers are after seven seconds) before I answer my own question
Often the real reason behind just stepping in (and not asking a powerful question) is based upon one of these skillsets, mindsets or motivations. Figuring out where and when you don’t lean into question-asking is a great first step to getting better at it. To paraphrase Claude Levi-Strauss, “Wise people don’t give the right answers, they pose the right questions.”
Have a great powerful question or the key to unlock someone else’s? Comment below or message us.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
David—this is terrific. Practical. Useful. Thanks.
Yikes! I recognize in myself four of the seven potential barriers you listed – no wonder I struggle to ask powerful questions! I have a lot of work to do! With that said, I have found that I am learning in a different way as my father has mild dementia. I am learning that I must pose a question to him 2-3 times, sometimes worded differently, and urge him to take a minute to ‘think’ as with this condition, it takes him longer to process and pull out the answer. Thanks for sharing.