Ask Better Questions to Enable Better Answers
John Maxwell is one of my all-time favorite thought leaders. On the topic of authenticity he states, “Who you are gives credibility to everything you say.” Indeed it does. I will add that who you are, or better stated…who you are BEING…impacts how what you are saying is received. Authenticity thrives in anabolic energy. Want better or more truthful or more creative answers and solutions? ASK better questions! Better = empowering questions; those based in genuine curiosity without judgment.
Critical thinking is a vital skill that’s gotten a bum rap in recent years it seems to me. The forerunner of critical thinking, Socrates, created what has come to be known as the Socratic Method. What happens when you merge the Socratic Method with an anabolic mindset? Genius thinking, that’s what you get! Socrates lived humbly; he was on a lifelong quest for objective truth, ethics, and virtue. His approach was simple yet required the discipline of never ending self-awareness. In Michael Britton’s book, The Socratic Way of Questioning, he notes that in order to think and reason in a Socratic way, “you need to develop intellectual humility, open-mindedness, an inquiring mind, and a thirst for the truth.” That, my friends, is grounded in authenticity which comes from anabolic energy!
When testing a hypothesis, when seeking clarification on a status report, when searching for a solution to an issue, when trying to strengthen a relationship…set your mindset first, then ask the question. Use empowering words that will elicit a thoughtful response rather than an abrupt yes or no. Mindset matters because you can use “anabolic” words but if your energy is catabolic, who you are BEING in that moment is the opposite of authentic, and the listener knows it. Let’s experiment. First, take a few deep breaths; release any tension you may be feeling. Say this aloud: “What happened?” If you set your mindset and your voice level and tone reflected your anabolic energy, the question is curious, genuine and non-threatening. Now…think of something that you find super annoying. Maybe it’s a general pet peeve or maybe it’s something that happened recently that really got under your skin. Ready? Now, say this aloud: “WHAT HAPPENED???” Feel and hear the difference? You can fake a smile and you can fake words but you cannot fake the energy you emit. To truly practice the Socratic Method for optimal results, merge it with an anabolic mindset!
Your most effective message is the one you live
Put it into Practice
Starting today, rather than saying “How are you?” when you greet someone, set the tone of the encounter by asking “What’s been the best experience of your day so far?” Set the direction of the conversation with a foundation of anabolic energy. You’ll find that the conversation or meeting will be more collaborative, truthful and solution oriented. The world is your energy and leadership lab! Have fun with it.