~If you do not know how to ask the right question, you will discover nothing~ W E Deming
Over the past year I have been increasingly teaching myself to ask the right questions. Being of the female gender – I seem to possess an inner drive to ask a multitude of questions and have concluded that my brain loves to feed off them! Questions are powerful tools that can ignite hope and lead to new insights. Yet they can also destroy hope and keep us stuck in bad assumptions.
I have discovered that one of my keys to successfully handling others is in asking the RIGHT questions. Sitting in a leadership seminar last year, I heard someone say: the best leaders are the best question masters. A bell rang on the inside of me and since then I’ve been on a journey to unpack that truth further.
I have stepped back and discovered afresh that certain negative questions I ask of myself are very undermining as they can quickly take me to a place of either uncertainty; inadequacy or frustration and subsequently I have no creative energy to answer them. For example: Why is this so hard? Why bother? Why do I waste so much time? Why do I keep saying the wrong thing at the wrong time? Why do Dutch people do it like THAT? God – why did you let that happen?
So I have begun to consider carefully the questions I ask of myself and others whom I am pastoring. To choose to ask a question that empowers me and creates possibilities and FAITH. A green GO question and not a red one! For instance: How can I be productive with my time? As opposed to a WHY question: Why do I waste so much time?
My life spins around others all the time. Discipling, pastoring, in and out of interesting/ challenging conversations, leading people and encouraging them in their walk with Jesus. And I have found conversations more fruitful and more constructive when I have sought to carefully ask strategic questions to draw out truth, heart and motives. To seek to understand. I have always treasured the truth in this verse:
Proverbs 14:33 Wisdom lies in the heart of the discerning
I can be hot headed when I THINK about what I REALLY would like to say to people! It’s too easy to hastily rush in- with my own assumptions- and fail to draw out truth wisely, the nuggets of information I need, truth that will empower me to help deal with the situation and make someone genuinely feel that I want to hear their side of the story. The right, open- ended questions give me:
· Time to consider,
· Truth to reflect back to that person,
· A chance to dig a little deeper, and
· An opportunity for them to unburden or confess.
Put simply, wise questions equip me; to deal with myself wisely and locate the real issues in my heart, to work on my marriage more positively, to understand my kids more fully and to lead others more effectively.