It doesn't hurt to ask
Have you ever heard of Socrates? He was a Greek philosopher that was considered “the main source of Western thought”. His philosophy revolved around the idea that human beings can base their ethics around reason. Aka – having all the facts before you make an educated decision is the way to go. How did he get his facts? He asked questions.
Why are questions so important?
They help you clarify, uncover new information, get to know someone, get answers you weren’t necessarily looking for, help you learn - I can go on… But asking questions is really difficult. Questions can also humble you, because you are forcing yourself to listen to someone’s needs and opinions, and really hear them.
In the business world, we want our ideas to be heard. We constantly think about what we want to say while the other person is talking. We think we know all of the facts. We assume we have a grasp on a situation when we haven’t really done the research. For me, asking questions used to be an incredibly intimidating task for two reasons:
I didn’t want to seem uneducated. I felt like asking questions was a sign of weakness. If I was well-prepared and alert, I wouldn’t need to ask questions because I would have had all of the information ready to go. That was so foolish.
I didn’t want to waste the time of my peers or my clients. Asking questions can sometimes make you feel like you are prying into someone’s business, or bothering them. If a client had a need, they’d let me know about it. Asking would be a waste of time because they were on top of their business, and nobody knew them better than themselves, right? So wrong.
When I learned how to not only ask questions, but ask the right ones, my life kind of changed. I was able to show clients what they didn’t know they needed, without really having to “sell” anything to them. They were open to new ideas, and here I was delivering these ideas in a non-threatening way. This is a skill I not only began using in business, but in everyday life. It gave me the ability to discover needs that clients, friends, and family didn’t realize they had and also caused me to listen perceptively and build conversation where there would be none otherwise.
So next time you are having a conversation, try asking more questions. It will help you gain insight, keep you from sucking the attention away from the other party, or even give you a stronger platform to base an important decision off of. See what happens. I think Socrates was onto something!