What Question AREN’T you Asking?

“You can tell whether a person is clever by their answers. You can tell whether they are wise by their questions.” Egyptian Nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz

Asking just the right question isn’t always an easy thing to do, but finding the right question is akin to finding a lost key to a hidden door. The right question can help defuse a heated argument, reveal a hidden truth, root out the source of a problem or shine a light on a brilliant new idea. 

To gather feedback for their customer service at Zappos (the on-line shoe business that I continually rave about), their favorite question is “How likely would you be to hire this employee if you ran your own customer service business?”

One of my favorite questions to get people thinking about that state of their workplace culture is: “Does your workplace match the hype of your help wanted ads?” I also like asking people to describe what TV show title best describes their workplace. A question like this sparks interesting conversations and typically reveals more hidden truths than asking a direct question.

When things go off the rails, my friend and fellow speaker Jeff Mowatt suggests: “What will it take for you to trust us again? You tell us.”

Finally, one of my favorite meeting questions is simply, “What question aren’t we asking?”

Since the right question can be invaluable, keep track of your favorite questions by starting a question file. And solicit your team mates and customers for their favorite questions.

June, 2013. Michael Kerr is a funny business speaker, a funny motivational speaker and a business trainer. He is the author of five books including “Putting Humor to Work” and “Inspiring Workplaces.” His next book is “The Humor Advantage. Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank.”   For inspiring ideas and insights on building a more fun, innovative and successful workplace culture, sign up for the weekly Humor at Work e-zine. 

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