“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
– Tony Robbins
Welcome to this weeks Unpack, I hope you’ve had a great week!
Today’s quote is from American coach, author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, about the quality of our questions.
How are your questioning skills? Do you find yourself asking a lot of “why” questions? Why did I do that, why doesn’t she like me, why can’t I get the job I want, why does my child misbehave etc?
“Why” questions have their place, they invite analysis, but analysis isn’t always what we need to get the result we want. And often the situation isn’t helped by asking a why question because we may not have insight into our motivations or external circumstances. I know one of the most useless questions I am prone to asking is “why did you do that?” to my 7yo! 😉
What about closed questions – those that require just a yes or no answer? They often start with words like can, are, do/did, will/would, and so on. These questions give us very limited information because of their one word answers. They don’t invite any further analysis, they’re almost like the opposite of a why question.
More often than not we will find better answers with a different approach, beyond the “why” and the closed question. The key is to find the right kind of question to get the answer you need.
The best questions are open, meaning they prompt a conversation because they can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They open the door to thinking beyond your current limit. Usually open questions start with words like what, how, who, where, when etc.
When we start asking high quality questions, we can start to find high quality answers. Notice the difference in the following example:
Can I create the life I want?
How can I create the life I want?
Notice that the addition of just one word changes the question completely? The first example is a closed question with a yes or no answer. If the answer is no, you are stuck, yet if the answer is yes, you still haven’t got anything really useful.The second one however invites you to consider what that life might look like as well as the steps you might need to take to get there.
Which one do you think is more effective?
Next time you have a problem to solve, try Q-storming, a technique developed by Dr Marilee Adams that involves brainstorming questions instead of solutions. Come up with as many questions as you can that might help you to your goal, then decide which ones will be most helpful. See how it changes your results!
Wishing you a fantastic week full of quality questions!