The power of asking before giving advice
How can we ask better questions and develop shared solutions that bring a team toghether by taking a moment to think before we speak.
According to the Harvard Business Review, few leaders believe that asking good questions is a skill that should be cultivated, or consider their own answers more important than building deep relationships with customers.
The truth is that when we ask more, we are training the “muscle” of curiosity, whose results can go far beyond the imposed problem and might feed a lasting culture of colaboration.
The ability to ask good questions comes from our curiosity, which is born with us but gets weaker and weaker throughout our teenage years, when we want to look like others and “fit in”. However knowing how to ask is a skill that is highly valued along our professional path. The question is: how can we be (and continue to be) curious in our daily lives?
Give less advice, ask more questions.
It is natural that we want to have all the answers. We are usually rewarded in our society for having answers. What will we do when we grow up? What is the right answer? A or B?. This becomes an indicator that we are being successful. However, there is a slightly deeper pattern, where having the answers feeds the ego, makes you look like the savior of the world, and gives you the impression that you are in control.
While wanting to give the right answer gives us an apparent sense of security, there are 3 very good reasons why you might delay your advice a little and try to better understand the question:
1 - Almost always, the first challenge that is brought to the table is not the real challenge, but a bet that within the various implicit symptoms, that is the main reason. Which means that by giving advice, you might be solving the wrong problem.
2- Your advice is almost always not going to be what you think it is when you bring it to the table. That's because we convince ourselves that we're sharper on an issue than we truly are. (cognitive bias).
3- Even if you have a better or more viable answer, still taking a break, listening and asking questions, engages a group and stimulates the creation of collaborative ideas, empowering your creative team and facilitating the co-creation of a solution.
But what if I'm not understood? Will I understand the answer to this question? Does this discussion make sense? If you have these doubts, congratulations! This means that you are giving up the solution in your head, and empowering other stakeholders to help create the project.
This feeling is fundamental to shape a stiff vision of a business and pave the way for a shared vision about what needs to change in a product.
Asking good questions sets you apart from a mechanic service. Showing little attention to questions and jumping into the problem-solving phase can make you appear uninterested in your challenge, and your service may end up being useless for the situation at hand. Asking good questions is also an indicator that you're not willing to waste your time, and your client's.