Thrive in 5 Series

The Power of Good Questioning

Questions can be much more important than answers. We take an in-depth look at what kind of questions are important and how they can be used to your benefit.

In this video, I emphasize the importance of asking great questions in order to be more valuable and helpful in relationships, work, and life. I discuss how some of the most brilliant minds, such as Einstein and Socrates, believed that the key to success is asking questions and how asking the right questions can bring value to a situation.

In order to help you understand and bring value in their own situations, I provide six specific types of questions to ask:

  • Situational questions: These are questions that help you understand the current situation, such as “What’s going on?” and “What’s happening?”
  • Clarifying questions: These are questions that help you better understand something that has been said or presented, such as “Why did you say that?” and “Where did that come from?”
  • Assumption-probing questions: These are questions that challenge assumptions and help you consider alternative viewpoints, such as “What could we assume instead?”
  • Reason and evidence-seeking questions: These are questions that help you understand the reasoning behind a statement or decision and ask for supporting evidence, such as “What led you to that conclusion?” and “Can you provide examples to support your point?”
  • Implication and consequence-exploring questions: These are questions that help you consider the potential outcomes or effects of a situation, such as “What are the potential consequences of this decision?” and “How might this affect other areas?”
  • Goal and objective-focused questions: These are questions that help you understand the goals and objectives of a situation, such as “What is the desired outcome?” and “What do you hope to achieve?”

I also emphasize the importance of listening and being present in the moment while asking these questions in order to truly understand and bring value to a situation.

ADDITIONAL EDIT: In the video I mistakenly credit the original quote “‘It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers).” to Voltaire. Sam Sawmy (in the YT comments) correctly pointed out that it actually comes from Pierre-Marc-Gaston de Lévis writings


The Transcript

Hi, this is Tom Adams and in the next five minutes, I am going to teach you a simple way to be much more valuable and helpful in your relationships, in your work, in your job, in your business, or in your life.

So how to be more valuable you ask? Well, it’s really in the power of great questions. And one of the things I keep learning is how important it is, in the relationships you have, and in the work you do to be really effective at questions.

See, we have this belief, and I have spent years sort of perfecting the art of being great at answers. And what I’ve discovered, the longer and the m ore, the older I become, and the more I’ve worked in business is what a lot of people have said many times the most brilliant thinkers have always said this. The answers are not what matters. It’s the questions.

Einstein, you know, he he was he was kind of the curious type. And he said, it’s really about always asking questions. It’s about never stopping asking questions.

Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, I’m going to read this because it’s that good. The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of the wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions. And Drucker as a management consultant was known as the king of questions. In fact, he was often called the insultant, not the consultant, because of his tendency to actually question people to a point of frustration, because he was seeking, seeking to find things out in a more profound way.

Socrates, as you know, you know, he developed the whole system, the Socratic method really comes from Socrates and his whole, the whole approach that he built was ask questions to really understand deeper what’s going on?

Voltaire? He had an interesting quote, and I love this. Voltaire said, judge a man by his questions, not by his answers. So Voltaire actually said that the best questioners are the people you want to have on your side.

And Neil Rackham really is the the guy who wrote SPIN Selling, and really one of the most important sales books, I believe, of the last 50 years. And Neil Rackham really builds his whole model on for profound kinds of questions in selling. And so if you’re going to be in the sales business questions are the key to success. Not the ability to deliver a pitch.

And so if it’s really about the power of great, great questions, I told you, when we started this, I wanted to help you to be much more valuable and helpful to other people.

So what I want to give you is six types of questions you can ask and really help you to understand these. And it really demands that you stop trying to say stuff. And it’s not just about listening, the listening is critical, to it but it’s stopping long enough to be present in the moment that you’re in and asking different types of questions to help you understand what’s going on and help bring value to the situation. To help the relationship you’re in, to help your business to asking these questions.

And so I’m just going to go through them quickly. Hopefully, these help you.

First one is Situation and situation is “what’s going on? what’s happening?” What is occurring in this situation that you’re in. And if you don’t ask that when you don’t get the lay of the land, you don’t really understand what is happening in the moment.

Clarification. Clarification is a question of why did you say that? Or where did that come from? It’s making sure you understand what has been said or pronounced or given. So it’s clarifying, it’s a clarifying question.

The next one I think is really important is to probe an assumption. And probing assumptions as a question might be something like, “what could we assume instead?” So that happened, but what could we assume might be a different way it would happen? And so assumptions are things that that are important to probe, because they really helped to clarify why people are thinking the way they’re thinking.

Probe reasons and evidence. And this is really important. A lot of people in their hiring staff don’t actually ask for evidence. So a great question would be, “what would be an example of that?” What would be a evidence that that has occurred? And those kind of questions make sure you get get to the reality of a situation?

Viewpoints and perspectives? So how do they look at it? It’s and it’s maybe not so much an assumption question, but it’s really what are the different ways that they see the situation they’re in. And so you might ask, What’s another way of looking at this? What’s, what are you?

What kind of viewpoint? Or what kind of perspective are you coming from when you look at that particular situation? So you’re, you’re actually digging in on the different ways that people look at things.

And then finally, implications and consequences. And the thing I like about this is it allows you to sort of get to what’s next. So in a sales situation, the implication is, how does not purchasing this software affect your future results? In a consequence situation, in terms of how you know, a family situation, how does not dealing with your kid in this situation affect what happens in their life? And there’s, there’s kinds of those consequence or implication questions that can be very helpful for you.

So the reason I give these to you is to just give you a methodology or a structure whereby you can ask questions. If you have enough ways of asking questions, when you get in situations where questions can become the secret of helping you understand the situation and in many cases, helping a situation understand itself.

Questions are the powerful way to do that. So my encouragement to you today is be like Einstein, Drucker, Socrates, Voltaire, and Rackham.

Be a questioner before you’re an answer.

I hope that helps. We’ll talk to you next time.