What type of questions do you ask more often?
There’s the question that stops.
To answer this question, the other person needs to stop what they are doing, collect some type of information, and copy-paste it for your perusal. It’s often annoying to be asked this kind of questions. First, because the information requested is usually publicly available, or at least obtainable by the one asking with a little effort. Second, because it does not really add anything to our common knowledge of the world, as the responder is essentially moving information around.
Think about questions such as When did we agree the deliverable should be ready?, or Can you sum up your report in one sentence for my presentation?, or Can you send me the link to the latest version of the brochure?, or even Do you have the notes of the meeting we had yesterday?.
Then there’s the question that starts.
To answer this question, the other person needs to venture in unknown territory, do resarch, come up with ideas, network, draft a solution, scratch it, draft another one, ask for feedback, find out some more, and then attempt something. It’s both exciting and empowering to be asked this kind of questions. They put things in motion, they enhance your understanding of the world (and our common knowledge of it), and the responder actually ends up building some piece of information that was not anywhere before.
Think about questions such as How would you tackle this?, or What can we do to increase our sales by 20% next year?, or Would you help me with this problem I don’t seem to be able to crack?, or again What would you do if you would be in this position?.
Chances are, you get to ask both questions in your work.
The more you ask questions that stop, the more the work of your team will be fragmented, undirected, demotivating, dissatisfactory, unproductive, and task-oriented.
The more you ask questions that start, the more the work of your team will be fresh, exciting, unprecedented, necessary, sought after, and problem-oriented.