The Power of the Question

The Power of the Question

So I am always taken by the person who says….”Can I ask you a question?” Last week a client prospect shuttered….”Can I ask you an embarrassing question (Oh Lord, I could only imagine what was coming –and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!).

Many of you have heard me say that there is no such thing as a bad question, only bad answers. I got this quip from my high school journalism teacher George Van Sandt and I have taken this to heart throughout my life.

The question, or more broadly, curiosity, is what drives the communication business. We have to be able to ask, feel free to ask and be encouraged to ask the right questions so we can do our jobs more effectively. Hence, the sheepish, typically don’t do well in this business precisely because they are afraid to ask.

So here is a question, why are people afraid to ask a question. The most common answers I believe:

  • They are afraid their question will be viewed as stupid or insignificant
  • They are afraid the question itself will raise a question of their competency
  • They are afraid of the answer itself

Yet, I have never found any of these to be true. In fact, I find people garner more respect for you when you ask a question. But let me be even more precise. Asking for something and asking a informational questions are two different things. You might ask for a raise, but for a variety of reasons not get it right now. However, if you ask a client about a new product, facility, customer, etc., the worse you might receive is that they are not ready to discuss it right now. However, rest assured you will be respected for even broaching the question in the first place.