It’s Time We Question Our Questionable Questions

By asking better questions

Our new world order… Note, I did not say New World Order. Oh, what the heck. Let me cut the nonsense.

In our new world dis-order, a lot of questions are asked and even more remain unanswered. (I’m sure you can figure that out.)

So let me ask you. Have you asked good questions lately? Or have you, too, been asking the same questions over and over? (No, sorry. “Why me?” does not count. You are not the only one who has asked that one over and over this past year.)

Now let me ask you this. Would you like me to give you a few tips on how to ask better questions? No? Well, I need not have asked, because I’m going to tip you a few answers in any case.

But keep this in mind. Time was when better questions got you better answers. Today? Better questions might, with a bit of luck and perseverance, get you one answer.

Know the Right Answer To Ask the Right Question

This is not the answer I asked for! (free public domain:

Let’s begin with a trick question. When you ask a question, do you know what you will do with the answer?

Often, knowing what you will do depends on why you are asking the question. The aim with some of our questions is to extract the answer we already know we want. Other questions we ask because of what we don’t know, but know we want to know.

As a manager, what is more important, the right answer or the right question? Management is about action today, solving problems and rapid results. This makes the right answer more valuable.

Leadership is about future uncertainty. The more options you have to explore, the better. Now the right question, the one that triggers different answers, is more valuable.

You will ask the right question when you know the type of answer you need. Because you know what you will do with it.

Stop for Full Stops Under Question Marks

See that big black dot? It’s there for a reason. (with permission: Tara McIntosh)

Do you often answer a question with a question? If so, you’re a question dodger. Question dodgers question back because they don’t know the answer. Because they want to hide the truth. Because they are playing for time. Because they are trying to be funny. Or all of the above.

When you respond to a question with a question, you probably react quickly because you don’t intend to answer. So you leave no pause between question and question.

If this rapid response is your style, then I have a question for you. Why is there is a period under the curve of the question mark? Why a full stop and not a comma?

Because you should stop… after asking a question. If you don’t shut up after asking a question, then how can the other person respond? Equally important, the person being questioned should also stop before responding.

Maybe then the response will not be a dodging question.

Ask Why Successfully

But why? (free public domain:

Work from home is over. Time to get serious again about work.

Wait. I’m joking!

Joking or not, here’s a question that might help you get serious about the rest of the year. Imagine that today is already 31 December and that you are looking back. How will you know it was a successful year for you?

Many people will list all the things that should have happened and all the things that they should have done to have made it a success.

These are ‘what’ questions. What happened? What should have happened? What did I achieve?

When it comes to success, the right questions to ask starts with ‘why’? Why should that have happened? Why should I have achieved that?

Do yourself and your colleagues a favor. Ask why, repeatedly. Do this often and you will irritate them. But the chances are that you will also be more successful.

And that’s worth a little irritation.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

Previous post you may have missed: As We Open Up, Don’t Be the Office Hog

The most recent Friday Trigger Q: Did you misinterpret reality this week?

Originally published at on June 8, 2021.



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James McIntosh

Born in RSA winelands. Earned 3 degrees drinking red wine. Chased by lioness, ran with elephants, got bored, moved to USA seeking adventure. Ex-CEO now coach.