Learning to ask the right question(s) has become one of my personal goals.
For years I included on my personal growth plan the goal of improving my listening skills. Quite deliberately, I dedicated myself to becoming a better, more powerful listener. While I am not yet as good at listening as I want to be, one of the things that became obvious to me through that process was the need for me to develop another necessary and important skill – the art of questioning.
The more I studied the behaviors and demeanor of powerful listeners, the more convinced I became that they were just as adept at asking the "right" questions. What do I mean by the "right" questions?
As I study powerful questioners I see that they open up possibilities with their questions, rather than close down discussion. They ask questions that are invitational, yet not threatening. The questions they ask tend to make others look deeply inside themselves to formulate the answers and to think critically in posing their responses. The net effect is richer dialogue.
The very best questions, I find, are those that either directly or indirectly cause folks to compare and contrast two phenomena. This line of inquiry cuts to the very heart of what we know is the way the brain naturally and playfully works as it encounters new or novel stimuli.
So, as I continue to stretch my communications skills, I'll keep polishing up on the listening side of the equation, but I'll devote just as much time and attention to developing my inquiry skills.
After all, it's there for the asking.