“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” That’s a quote from Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. I couldn’t agree more. Over the years in my consulting career, I have learned the importance of asking questions. I know that asking the right questions is one of the most valuable tools that SM Advisors can use to help our clients increase the profitability of their organization.

Could implementing the question more often in your communication style increase the effectiveness of your professional and personal relationships? I would ask you to consider the following in regards to the power of the question:

•When you make a statement, you create judgment. When you ask a question, you create opportunity. I have seen the light bulb turn on when I say this to a client. Suspending judgment and creating the opportunity for greater understanding through questions is a critical step in effective communication. You don’t have to agree with your colleagues but you need to understand where they are coming from.

•You empower others by asking them a question. A question empowers those around you to own and resolve their own challenges. Questions encourage independence not dependence. The best leaders create a unified team of independent individuals that are not dependent on them for day-to-day decisions.

•The best ideas to solve a challenge in a department typically will come from those working in that department. Questions help those with the challenge come up with the best ideas to solve it. They just need a process that asks the right questions to bring out the solutions.

•Some of the best questions to ask your fellow team mates to promote high quality discussions and professional development include the following:

  • What can I stop doing, start doing and continue doing to help you be more effective in your position?
  • Are you in the position that you can bring the greatest value to your organization and yourself? What can you do more of to increase the value you bring to the team and organization?
  • What are your greatest frustrations in your current position? What can I do to minimize them?
  • How would you describe your “Dream” for our company and how do you see yourself being a part of it?

So next time you are in a situation where you want to give your opinion and make a statement, try to pose a couple of well thought out questions to create understanding and agreement. It will bring more fulfilling relationships in all areas of your life. Do you think you can do that?

Image provided by