The Power of Questions (and Teenagers)

This week my husband and I tried to persuade our teenage son that the process of listening and asking questions when conversing with others is important. Over the years, the skills I gained in my coaching training has become a part of who I am and so asking questions and listening attentively to others is a general way I operate… most of the time (no one is perfect). 

Having the conversation with our son this week forced me to think about the specific value that asking questions delivers.  While we can only wait to know if we succeeded in influencing our son in any way, I offer the 10 ways asking questions creates value in the hopes it resonates for you. 

  1. Show you care.  Questions spark get-to-know-you opportunities.  You demonstrate a personal interest in someone else when you ask them a question. 
  2. More than the what.  Posing an open-ended question will allow you to find out not just what someone thinks but why they feel the way they do.  
  3. More than the what – part II.  No one choose the right words all of the time.  By asking questions and listening well we go beyond what has been said and catch a glimmer of the intent behind the words.
  4. Buy time.  There are moments in a conversation when you get caught off guard and you can begin to feel emotional.  When you ask someone a question you buy yourself a few moments to take a deep breath and try to focus back in on the subject.
  5. In it together.  Questions are the cornerstone of collaboration.  On a team, nothing is more inclusive than asking someone else for his or her perspective. 
  6. Get the story.  Our decisions are always based on the stories we tell ourselves.  Often this information is not written down and through conversation we get beyond the simple what and why to get a full picture. 
  7. Check for understanding.  Questions allow us to confirm what we believe we have heard.  This keeps us on the same page and moving forward. 
  8. Create an impression.  People will respect you more when you ask questions.  Good questions are always more powerful than telling people what to do. 
  9. Take it down a notch.  When conversations get heated, people start to take offensive and defensive positions.  Questions break people out of those perspectives, leading them to common ground.
  10. Wise love.  When we ask someone for their thoughts and opinions we are honouring them.  A balanced, meaningful conversation is one of life’s greatest treasures whose riches are a wisdom beyond any other path of learning we have. 

LEARN-DO-TEACH has always been the model I’ve used in order to understand just about anything.  I now have amended that to LEARN-DO-TEACH A TEENAGER.  Thanks for the lesson, son.