I used to believe that “there is no such thing as a stupid question”, yet after asking my share of arguably stupid questions I realized I was wrong. Maybe labeling them as stupid is harsh, but there are bad or badly worded questions just as there are bad answers. Whether good or bad, which is better: the question or the answer? In my opinion the question is better.
The question-and-answer question (?) is like the analogy of the journey and the destination; which is more important? The questions are the journey, and the answers are the destination; if you ask the questions, you will get to the destination. I often ask questions to lead people down a certain path, as the discovery process can take us down some fascinating ones. I’ve found this tactic to be useful to learn about environments, subjects, and people. It’s also a good way to build a relationship or to open a conversation.
When I used to run projects, questions were an important tool. Often, I would intentionally ask a question I already knew the answer to. By asking the question to a group, listening to their responses, and guiding the conversation with more questions, I’ve found that teams come to conclusions and get on the same page much quicker. Had I just told them the answer, it may be less likely to stay with them and the team is less likely to be on the same page.
Sometimes my questions come out of left field; usually they are straight forward, although sometimes they can be complex. Being a naturally very curious person, I ask a lot of questions. That is how I learn about the universe and the people around me, and that is how I build relationships.
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”– Eugene Jonesce
What questions are you asking this weekend? Let me know.