Are you an answer-giver or a question-asker?
Let’s be honest. We all LOVE to be the ones that have the answers. We want people to come to us for advice or to help solve a person’s problem. That’s primarily why we speak up in conversations. We like to be heard. We like to give answers. We like to be right.
But is being heard, giving answers and being right all that beneficial?
Don’t get me wrong: people need answers. Absolutely. I just don’t think we should give them the way they’re usually given.
The wisest people in the world are those who ask more questions than they give answers.
I believe the best way to help others is to ask questions.
Here’s what I mean:
If a friend of mine comes to me for advice, it would be very easy for me to give him my opinion of what he should do. Easy peasy.
The more effective method would be to ask the right questions.
Here’s a simple example:
Friend: “Hey Derek, should I spend $3-4K on a used car now, OR finance a newer, more expensive car?”
Me: “That depends on a few things. Like, is it more important for you to have a newer car now and be in debt, OR would you rather get by with an older car that works and will get you around and not have a car payment every month?”
Friend: “Well, I’d rather have the newer car now, so I’m not worried about having to get things repaired. And I think I can afford it.”
Me: “Have you put together a monthly budget to be sure you can afford it? Have you listed out all your expenses and all your income to be sure?”
These are the types of questions I would ask in this situation.
Personally, I hate debt. So the answer for me is a no-brainer. I pay cash for the cheaper car and save to buy a newer and nicer car later.
But my answer is based on my values. I value being debt free.
Let’s look at another scenario.
Let’s say a friend is having relational problems with her boyfriend, and she comes to me for advice. I more than likely will not give an outright answer to her question. I will probe with more leading questions so that she will discover for herself what she should do.
Self-discovery is far more powerful than being told what to do. When you ask the right questions, people begin to reveal (or discover) their values.
And values are how we make decisions.
So why ask questions? Because you can’t force your values on someone else. You have to help them uncover their own.
And sometimes people don’t even know what they value until they’re asked.
That’s why I ask questions. And that’s why you should too.