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Avoiding questions

Do you avoid asking questions? People avoid questions for many reasons. We don’t want to make other uncomfortable. We might disrupt the meeting agenda. We worry that it’s a stupid question. Or ask ourself, “What if no one knows the answer?”

One strategy for handling these question stoppers is to begin the question with a phrase that lets everyone know that you’re aware of the situation, but are still going to ask.

Some examples of introductory phrases:

• I might not be wording this well, but …
• This may need a separate conversation, but …
• I know we may not have all the answers yet, but …
• I’m wondering about …
• I’m not clear about …

Whether you’re in a meeting or answering an email, if you find yourself hesitating to ask a question, don’t wait for the perfect moment or the perfect question, consider adding an introductory phrase and ask the question.

Needed: More data or the right question
Creating a space for critical thinking

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great short post! Most people ask far too few questions and make too many assertions (like this one!). My mentor, Max De Pree, is famous for asking questions of his mentees and for encouraging them to find their purpose by answering the big questions. Another mentee of Max’s, Walt Writght, directs a De Pree Leadership Center at Fuller Seminary. Here is the URL http://www.depree.org/html/publications.html. I think you will enjoy browsing in it. I also “liked” the FB page and am now getting daily Max quotes.

    Here are three of his questions:

    1. Who do I intend to become?
    2. What do I owe?
    3. What can I keep?

    Here’s to more and better questions!

    March 3, 2011
    • friesengroup #

      I did enjoy browsing this evening and highly recommend the site to my other readers. Shirley, I read his book “Leadership Jazz” on your recommendation and would add that to my recommendation. Thank you for pointing out a path to explore and asking questions worth pondering.
      Kathleen

      March 3, 2011

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