Brussels is a great city, but the traffic can be terrible. When I get stuck in traffic my mood drops instantly and I often start to ask myself all kinds of negative questions: "Why is this traffic so bad? Why did I not check my traffic app before? Why is this always happening when I am already late?"
With these questions, I usually get answers like "You're an idiot! You should have checked! That's what happens when you're stressed and overloaded." I even get angry at other drivers for the type of car they're driving.
Then one day I discovered the power of using better questions. It's simple. I ask myself better, more positive questions to change my state of mind. In this case: "Is there anything I could do right now that would make this unexpected time in my car valuable?". Better answers appear like magic: "I could listen to a great song, or maybe an audio book or a new podcast. I could even call a friend I haven't heard from in a while".
I usually pick the one that is the most appealing at that time and before I know it I’ve reached my destination. Not stressed, but feeling relaxed.
Better questions lead to better results
If you're unhappy about something, you should probably ask yourself different questions. Questions lead to answers, which in turn lead to actions and results.
When the answers you're getting don't produce the results you want, that's excellent feedback! It means you need to come up with alternatives, and the best way to do that is by changing your questions.
If you start your day and ask yourself what's the minimum number of actions you need to come up with, your to-dos will be very different than if you seek to overachieve or learn.
You want to grow your company but your sales aren’t taking off? Maybe you're currently wondering what new clients you could approach, or what new promotion you could offer?
But have you considered changing your questions?
- Who are my customers, really? Do I understand their deepest needs? Is my offer irresistible?
- Is my service answering these needs or do I just have an ok service?
- Am I bringing more value than the competition? Is my pricing correct?
And if you have, have you answered them truthfully?
What does it really mean?
When you lose someone close, get fired or have an accident, the questions you ask will define your overall experience and future actions.
"Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve that?" These negative questions will only lead to negative answers. "I'm not good enough", I don't have luck" or "These bad things keep happening to me".
But you are free to come up with a better question at any given moment that will give you a new meaning. "What could I learn from this? What's actually good about this situation? " Nothing? Keep looking. There must be something!
Imagine you get fired tomorrow. How would you react? What questions will you ask? "Why me? I did not deserve that!" Or "How could this be the biggest gift anyone has ever given me?" Maybe you did not like your job. Maybe you've always wanted to do something else and now you get a push in the back.
A problem is only a problem because you see it as a problem. Change your perspective by asking a different question.
Learn, connect and impact
Asking quality questions also helps you connect with others. It's the best way to learn something new. Go beyond the usual questions like "How are you"? or "Everything ok?" Standard questions get standard answers. Go outside the script.
Imagine how much you would learn if every time you talk to someone your goal is to learn something from them. Go for different kinds of questions, try it out! "What do you love so much about that? How would you approach this challenge? What is really exciting currently in your job?"
It's also a great way to create an impact. Asking powerful questions may inspire others to take action. We all have this capacity every time we talk to someone!
What about you?
- The consistent questions you ask yourself change the way you think, the way you feel and what decisions you make.
- The consistent questions you ask others will determine how much you learn, the way you connect and how much you will inspire others.
- And whatever happens in your life, the power of questions will give you the freedom to decide what meaning you give to any situation.
Now, my question to you is: "How are you going to use this information in the next week to get better answers from yourself and others?"
Asking questions is like any other skill. It can be learned and mastered with practice and persistence.
Any questions? :-)