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February 13, 2013

Let me ask you something...

February 13, 2013

Are you a good question-asker? 

I spend a fair amount of time dissecting what makes SmallBoxers tick, trying to parse out the common traits which, at least to my mind, set our team apart. (On the flip side, I also look for what's missing, so we can find complimentary traits in new team members).

One thing I have noticed pretty much every 'Boxer has: great question asking skills.

I had personally noticed long ago how rewarding it felt for people to say "Good question!" There's just something affirming about hearing those words, a quick equivalent to "Hey, I like having you around. You make me think about all the right things."

I obsessed over the goodness of question-asking again when I was on the receiving end of a really great one recently. During Factory Week, I got this tweet from our business coach, CJ McClanahan.

CJ Tweet

In fact, Jeb looked over my shoulder when this tweet was pulled up on my screen and without knowing what I was thinking, guess what he said? "That's a good question."

I was sitting with three others coworkers at the time, and asked a question I'd been turning over in my head: Is good questioning an inherent behavior? Or can it be learned? And if you can model the behavior or give tips on improving querying skills, what would you say?

Leigh said she thought good question-askers have courage. They aren't afraid of looking silly.

Elizabeth added she thought it took courage in another way - in being able to ask hard questions and hold others accountable to honest answers.

Jason offered up a thought I buy into 100%: you have to care about the answer.

I asked via twitter, and got a similar response from Emily Lytle-Painter:

Emily tweet

Courage and genuine curiosity are behaviors that are modeled and learned over time. There's no simple how-to kit for that. My teammates and I brainstormed some other tips you might give to a rookie questioner - things like doing research, planning questions ahead of time, playing devil's advocate, asking the 5 Ws.

I'll offer one last suggestion for sharpening your Qs, one that seems to work pretty well: hang out with good question-askers. You're bound to learn a thing or two.

What tips would you add?

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