How well do we ask questions?
Another day, I was talking to my friend on the phone and she shared with me about first visit to her boyfriend's parents. Everything was great and nice people, but she didn't feel his parents were excited to meet her that much. Most of the time she asked questions, and they had relatively short answers but didn't ask questions in return which made her to feel they didn't interested in her. I can relate to this feeling as I am still searching my "partner in crime", I go for an online dates and usually guys hardly ask question. Of course, some cases it might be sign of there isn't enough interest in.
Asking a lot of questions unlocks learning and improves interpersonal bonding.
According to HBR, asking questions helps to connect and make sense of bigger picture, learn from one another not limited by our day to day life. In professional life, we often have limited time and questions to ask specially during job interview or in meetings with high level stakeholders. By asking good questions, you can get noticed in positive way at the meetings, and create "AHA" moments to solve problems. I ask many questions by nature and one day, my line manager gave me a feedback about I ask too many questions. Recently also my colleague said to me my questions are stupid to answer. I thought the both feedback was shallow, and not constructive yet it started to effect on my self-esteem, and I was asking questions less and less at the office. But I didn't want to just gave up instead decided to work on my questioning skill by reading books and articles to improve how to ask better questions.
"Ask Powerful Questions: Create Conversations That Matter" by Will Wise was recommended by goodreaders.com and it helped me to learn to ask powerful questions, open up new possibilities and new ways of thinking. He illustrated the process by Pyramid - identify your intention, be open and be presence to listen. In between, use emotional intelligence and body language.
First chapter is about "Intention" which is foundation of asking question. Will explains that articulating our intention at the beginning, brings clarity to others about where you are coming from and invites them to engage honestly. Most important part, before asking question is "Openness" - openness to differences and unexpected answers. Often we fail to connect one another because we trapped in our own view of world and expectations. An important indicator of how we are openness is "Listening". This chapter deles into various reflective listening styles and techniques. Once we are clear about our intention and being presence, how can we use Rapport and Empathy to drive meaningful conversations.
After reading this book and apply to my day to day conversations, I become better listener. Asking question is not only about being curious but it is about having clear intention and openess rather than assuming someone else's intention. Sometimes we get trapped into the discussion and try to proof that other person is not giving answers we expected to hear, so we forgot what was our intention at first place, why we asked the question. Once we trapped in our own assumption, our following questions exactly framed so that conversion is not anymore honest. Of course in order to discover our intention we need to dig deeper and ask follow up questions. But if our mind is trapped in our expectation and not listening another person, second and third questions are meaningless.
So I realised having a question needs participation from both parties to be openness and active listen. So that question will be powerful and conversation can continue honest.