“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize winner
This quote came to mind as I reflected on a fund-raising workshop I attended. The presenter said that good fund-raising was 80% either listening or asking questions to get the prospective donor to talk about his passions and values.
A well-placed question can go far in many settings: interviews, meetings, early stages of relationships, discipline hearings or a classroom. We focus so much energy on having people answer the questions, that I think the value of asking the questions is often overlooked.
How can you infuse more questions into your work? Maybe an assignment for my next class will be to write out the questions the readings raised instead of answering the prompts I give them! Interview coaching and candidate prep could focus on the questions to ask instead of rehearsing answers. Your next meeting agenda could be to generate questions about strategic direction instead of answers.
Try to make your ask to answer ratio a bit more in the direction of asking this week and practice embracing your Qs.