Thursday, February 13, 2014

What is a Good Question?

A friend asked me the other day how he could become better at asking questions.  Now, that's a good question!

First of all, a good question is NOT one that seeks to probe for data.  Frankly, I don't care where you live or what you do.  I don't care how old you are, what kind of car you drive, or the type of smartphone in your hand.  So, I NEVER (okay, rarely) ask questions of data... the facts and figures typically bore me.  If you want to give me some data, that's your choice.

Data is cocktail party chit chat.  And, I don't really like cocktail parties.

What I DO like is to learn about you.  What makes you tick.  What gets your heart pumping.  What you're looking forward to and what you might be dreading.  I want to know what you are making your life mean.  So, my questions almost always open a door for you to share some of your story.  And, I'm happy to share some of my story as well. 

The big idea here is that stories are mostly fiction.  Our story is what we make all the data in our lives mean.  As author and awesome speaker Brene' Brown says, "Stories are data with a soul."  So, with whatever data you might choose to give me, I can invite you to share some story about it.

You told me you are a new dad.  What was most surprising about your ten-month journey?

You told me you are a weight lifter.  What are you hoping to achieve?  What are you learning about yourself as you gain strength and stature?

You told me that there is twelve inches of new powder.  How do you feel about that?  What is it you want to have happen today?

You told me you went to Israel last summer.  What was gratifying or upsetting?

So, that's the idea behind good questions.  And the fun part of a good question is that I get to listen to the answer.  I connect to you through your story.  And, maybe I get to see a little bit of my story in yours. 



(Wondering what's up with the picture of Glenda from the Wizard of Oz?  Besides plenty of good questions during the movie, her closing question is what allowed Dorothy to go home... "And what have you learned?"  Which is, almost always, a good question!)

Am I Listening?

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