From an excellent discussion on Scott Gould’s blog, @juliewalraven raised that one of the biggest barriers most of us have for engaging, is the ability to ask probing, useful questions. Which got me thinking…
Why is it useful to get good at asking questions?
For me it has been the key to breaking out of the 9 to 5 lifestyle and if your goal is generating discussion, then knowing how to ask the right questions to engage people becomes essential. We have a tendency to stumble around looking for an answer to our problems before we know what the question is. The net result is a lot of frustration and wasted effort.
Asking the right question at the right time has the added benefit of catching the ear of some very bright, and engaged individuals. By building connections and sharing your question with a group, the result is a far better answer than stumbling towards a solution alone.
A solution is never complete. There is always a hole, always an improvement. If you’re one of those that can always spot a better way, ask the question and make the challenge because you could really help someone develop their idea.
Contribute, good things happen as a result. What good things? Well My Storyis one where I challenged Senior Management to consider working with the new reality of Social Media Platforms. They listened, and it significantly benefited my career.
How did I learn to Ask Engaging Questions?
Then a wonderful thing happened. I noticed that experience in business knows how to ask questions. My own personal mentor John, has a knack of asking a juicy question to get the brain whirring. ’How does this benefit our customer? How do we monetise it? Is it right for us? What do we have to do to turn it into a product?’
Apply those questions to your Product or Blog, or try applying it to someone else’s and see if you can contribute and engage with them. People notice when you add value to their passion. Chris Brogan is the master of asking engaging questions that FORCE you to react. Observe
How can you Ask Engaging Questions
Be critical, be cynical, be everything in-between, but when you’re done… be constructive with it. We react to everything around us on some level, but do you challenge the world around you? I always loved the EA Games slogan “Challenge Everything”. Challenge everything, and be willing to be wrong.
Now take your top 5 mentors (whether they are aware they have that position or not), and see how they use questions to make people think. Most of all try, do, ask.
How it will benefit you
My own story is fairly intertwined with having to learn the ability to ask challenging questions. Perhaps yours is be too? Can you look at the big picture, challenge the “way things have always been done” and bring a diverse option to the table? If done in a constructive way, this is a very useful skill.
Have a go at challenging the world around you, and let me know how you get on.