Sundown last night began the Jewish holiday of Passover, the story of the enslavement of the Jews and their freedom from bondage. A critical component of Passover is the telling of this important story. In my family, my dad leads the storytelling and all in attendance take part. As the youngest child at the table this year, I was responsible for asking the Four Questions.
Four critical questions about “why” we do what we do during this time. The answer for each question describes specific events in the Passover story and the symbolic meaning of each of these events in relation to the Passover festival.
And it got me thinking about the importance of asking questions. When we were little kids, we were constantly asking “why” and “how come.” In school, we had to raise our hand, but we were still encouraged to ask a lot of questions. As we get older, I wonder if we forget the importance of asking questions.
It takes great talent to ask good questions. It’s easy to fall back on the standard “how are you” or “what’s happening” but wouldn’t we find out more if we asked something more engaging?
My friend, Duff, told me that during job interviews he asks the candidate what kind of breakfast cereal best describes their personality. It is not so much about what the answer is, but what is revealed in the answer.
We have to ask probing questions all the time – how else can we get to the good story ideas with our clients if we don’t. Alison calls this “story mining” and when used correctly, we not only get those good story ideas but get a glimpse into our clients that we might not get if stuck to the standard questions.
So why are some of us afraid to ask questions? Do you think it makes you look weak or unsure?
I believe asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence. Smart questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire.