Site icon Troy Media

The power of a good question

talk interview business work job employment
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Questions are one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenals as leaders, professionals, parents and humans.

One of my favourite stories about the power of a question comes from an interview.

My final interview for a job I really wanted was with the CEO of the company. After peppering me with questions, he asked if I had any for him. I asked him why he was the CEO. Twenty years later, I can still remember the whiplash that unexpected question elicited.

Later, I was told it was a very bold question. I also got the job – because of or in spite of what the encounter said about me.

Questions can stop a thought process or redirect a discussion. We’ve all been in meetings where someone goes on and on about what they think. It’s easy to sit back and tune out. But a question immediately demands our attention. The better the question, the more likely we are to perk up, and the more likely the conversation will deepen and our exchange will become more meaningful.

A good question has a number of characteristics. It’s well-considered. It comes from a place of genuine curiosity. It’s on-topic. It’s positioned in a way that allows the discussion to move forward. It requires people to pause and think before answering. It challenges assumptions. It opens up new pathways of thinking.

Coaching is a very popular development strategy for a reason. It is, at its core, all about asking the good question. A really good question is fuel for our reflection, awareness and insight. Most of us like to solve our own problems and good questions invite us to do that.

There are a few key situations where asking good questions is more effective than giving advice:

Knowing when and how to ask a good question is invaluable. It will make you a better leader, a better coach, a better parent, a better friend.

And asking really good questions is also the best way I know to come across as really smart without having to know all the answers.

Rebecca Schalm, PhD, is founder and CEO of Strategic Talent Advisors Inc., a consultancy that provides organizations with advice and talent management solutions.

© Troy Media

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Rebecca Schalm

Rebecca holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and has assisted organizations for over 25 years in building talent capability that enables business strategy. Prior to founding Strategic Talent Advisors Inc., she was SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer of Finning International Inc. and spent over 10 years at RHR International LLP.

Exit mobile version