The Discipline of Asking Questions
So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
Can I ask you a question?
To late, I just did.
Learning to ask questions is the key to opening the door to countless opportunities, experiences, and relationships. Kids typically do a great job asking questions. If you have ever been with a young child, you’ve heard this question over and over again: “Why?”
Kids are curious. They want to learn. They want to grow. They want to try new things. And they seem to know that asking questions is the key to getting what they want. Kids also don’t let the fear of sounding stupid stop them from asking questions.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most of us forget the power of asking questions. We lose our curiosity. We don’t want to appear like we don’t know all the answers. And we’re afraid we might be told “No” when we ask for something.
I’ve learned something recently:
The answer will always be “No” if we don’t ask.
This is why we must learn the discipline of asking questions.
In the writing and speaking world, there are many opportunities available to those who ask.
If I want to speak, I have to ask. If I want to write on someone’s blog or platform, I have to ask. If I want to be on someone’s podcast, I have to ask. Sure I may get an invitation from time to time without asking, but this is not the norm. In the last few weeks, I made three asks I want to share with you:
- I asked to be a guest on Rocco DeLeo‘s podcast, And Dad Makes 7. Tonight, we’ll be recording the interview for his podcast.
- A couple week’s ago, I asked if I could speak at the 2016 Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers Conference in September. I have been in touch with the person coordinating these opportunities, and the conference committee in charge of selecting presenters is meeting next week. My proposed presentation is one of the things they will be considering.
- Two week’s ago, I filled out an application to write an article for Entrepreneur.com. I haven’t receive a response yet, but I’m not losing hope.
You may not be a writer or a speaker, but you still have a lot to gain by asking questions. When you practice the discipline of asking questions, many things happen.
- You get to know people better when you ask questions. Where were you born? What do you like to do in your spare time? What do you want to accomplish in the next five to ten years? What’s your favorite color? How did you get to where you are today? When you ask questions, you get to know people.
- You come across as more interesting when you ask questions. Questions are the gateway to great conversations. And when you have conversations, you automatically increase your “I’m interesting” factor.
- You show people they matter when you ask questions. When people ask me questions, I feel valued. When you ask questions, you show others they are valued. By asking questions, you have the opportunity to show people they matter.
- You learn new things when you ask questions. Be curious. Questions will take you to all kinds of new places and new information. I’ve learned a lot about blogging as a result of the questions I have asked other bloggers. In my career, I grown a lot and seen new opportunities as a result of asking “How can I do this better next time?”
- You clarify your path forward when you ask questions. Sometimes we get stuck. We develop a type of paralysis, because we aren’t sure how to proceed. Asking the right questions can give us clarity on the direction we should be taking.
- You can move more quickly when you ask questions.
- You become a better leader when you ask questions.
One thing worth noting, once you’ve asked your question(s) make sure you stop to listen. The real learning happens when we listen to what others have to say in response to our questions. And if you’re asking yourself the question(s), make sure you take time to reflect and process your responses to your own questions.