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Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology (Mostly Software)


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Questions

Questions

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I've written about the willingness to ask a question and how being the person who is willing to ask a question can be powerful. Usually when I say this I'm talking about the willingness to do this in spite of a fear of looking or sounding stupid.

I recently had a different, but related, experience.

I was in a contentious meeting. People were not communicating and everyone was digging their heels in for a fight.

I asked a question.

It wasn't a great a question. It wasn't a terribly insightful question. It was a legitimate question - something that I really didn't understand because it wasn't clear to me what a certain part of the disagreement was about. I also didn't understand why no one was talking about it.

It was enough to open a door to a different discussion in this case. It was enough to expose that there were things that were unclear to people in the room, and it gave everyone a chance to take a breath and look at the disucussion from a different perspective.

It was enough to make the discussion a lot more productive, if not 100% friendly.

A question won't always resolve these situations. However, asking such a question is important if you are going to contribute to a discussion (and hopefully a resolution).

And it can help others look at their own assumptions and realize they may have questions of their own.

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Questions

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You're accountable for the answer to the question that you knew you should ask, even if you chose not to ask it.

It may be that you were the only person smart, good, or experienced enough to ask it. So, if no one else asks, then you must do it.

Sometimes the key to having influence is asking difficult questions. The answers may be hard, but you ask anyway.

Unasked questions usually find a way to answer themselves sooner or later.