From Chapter Twoon how quality questions get quality answers
"Power #1: Questions Demand Answers"
"To find the exact answer, one must first ask the exact question."
- S. Tobin Webster, clergy man
You not only have great power because questions demand answers, you have a great responsibility as well. It is up to you to formulate a good question. In order to do that, your question has to have a specific purpose behind it. A clear purpose helps you get closer to the answer you need and want.
Before you ask an important question, ask yourself, "Why am I asking?" Define your purpose by asking the following questions of yourself first.
- Exactly what do I want to gain with this question? Do I want help, advice, information, commitment? Do I want to open a discussion, develop new ideas, bring out opinions or attitudes? Do I want to achieve agreement or suggest an action, idea, or decision?
- Who am I asking? Someone I know well, someone I do not know at all, someone in authority, someone on my staff?
- What is the right time or occasion to ask? Timing is everything. You don't want to ask your boss an important work-related questions at the Christmas party or a personal question at the board meeting.
- What will the impact of this questions be? Questions can be asked in many ways. Before you ask a question of someone else, consider: If I phrase the question this way, what possible answers will I get? Is there a more specific way to phrase this to get a more specific answer?
"We think in generalities, but we live in detail."
- Alfred North Whitehead, mathematician, philosopher, cosmologist
* Also appearing throughout the book are sections headed by the letters IQ. That stands for either "interesting quote" or "intelligent question." Each section contains words of wisdom on the subject of questions.