Distinctive Thinking

on Business Success – Articles, tips, and Q&A’s

A Question for You…

Posted by bizcoachjason on April 30, 2008

A question for you…

Actually, I have a few questions for you:


What’s the best thing that could happen to you

right now?  What would happen if you doubled

your sales?  What if you got twice as much

done in your day?  What would it be like if all

your business and personal relationships were

effortless?  What could you do to make your

business thrive?


Ask yourself: Are you asking enough

questions every day?


For most of us, the answer is ‘no.’  Let’s take a

look at why…


To start, what do all those above questions

have in common?  Obviously they are all

questions.  Nothing shocking there.


They are completely open-ended questions.

They don’t look for a “yes” or a “no” but instead

for some original thought in the answer.


They don’t communicate judgment or bias

towards the pending answers.  Also, they don’t

imply an expectation of specific answers.

Therefore, because they are “opinion neutral”

and open-ended, they empower the person

being asked to come up with their own original

answer, leading to creative thinking, new ideas

and better results.


Finally, they all start with the word “what”. As

we all learned in school, questions can start

with many different words, and we’ve been

taught to mix it up.  But the questions above,

and many powerful others that can change our

business, relationships and spur success,

typically start with the word “what”.  What’s

behind that?


“What’s with the ‘what’?”


Changing your asking habits is not easy.

Questions that start with “why” are the ones

that usually pop into our heads.  They are

shorter and often seem more to the point. In

our world, we value brevity and directness.

Time is valuable, so we like quick thinking and

quick acting.  But “why” questions are often

leading, negatively charged or rhetorical, all of

which negate the point of asking.


“Why did you do that?” 


This is a common one for all of us. Often it

means you did something wrong, and it may

sound more like a statement than a question.


Consider a common scenario, such as a

manager looking for feedback from an

employee on something the employee wrote.


“Why did you write it like that?”  


This question from a manager can make an

employee worry about coming up with the

“right” answer or feel they have to justify their

work.  But it’s possible the manager was just

curious about the choice of words, and not

intending to communicate an opinion or a

judgment.  A great alternative question might

be: “What were you hoping the reader would

take away from that wording?”


This gets to the underlying issue.


This question digs deeper to what the manager

really wants, which is to determine the possible

result of the work, not the emotional reasoning

of the employee when they wrote it.  It gets to

the real issue faster and in a more supportive

way, which in turn empowers the employee and

further builds the relationship between manager

and employee. Sounds like a useful concept to

have in a business, doesn’t it?


You might even use a “what” question to follow

up a question that you were asked:


“Should I go ahead and run the program?”


Instead of saying, “No, I don’t think you’re

ready,” how about trying any of the following:


“What are some of the alternatives?”

“What would be the outcome if you waited?”

“What’s a possible benefit to doing it next



And the answers you get back may actually

give you feedback that you really hadn’t

considered, taking things in a completely new

direction.  Improving the decision-making

process, encouraging team work, and having

better results would just be side effects.


The Challenge…


The next article I send will be how to

incorporate these ideas to supercharge your

networking and sales…


But before I send that out, I would like to ask

you to challenge yourself:


Track your progress on asking ten “what”

questions for the next three days to clients,
co-workers, family members, etc., when your
first instinct is to either give feedback or ask 
a “why” question. 

See how their reactions are different from the
ones you have come to expect.  And also note
how the path forward unfolds from that interaction
and what positives changes occur both immediately
and long-term.


So, you now you have it — ask more questions!

Open-ended questions.  Questions that start

with “what.”  And let’s hear what happens.


Talk to you later!


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