Guest post by David C Roberts
Toddlers ask great questions. Sometimes I wonder if children have been secretly trained at a leading law school. They are curious, they are interested in things and they ask open questions; who, what, when, where and how questions. Once the bit is between their teeth they then launch in with repeated salvos of the why? question.
And then, just as they start to get mastery of the art of asking great questions, we (the parents) step in with the artillery and use the words ‘because I said so.’ The result might be that we encourage our children to stop asking questions and to start interpreting and using their own creativity to work out what is going on. The result might be that we (the parents and the other authorities) remove, unintentionally, little by little, the natural inquisitiveness of our young people.
Many years later, when our young children are grey haired and sat as members of a select committee of MPs asking questions of powerful press barons, how useful would it be if they could recall those childhood days and start to ask those telling open questions and the telling follow-up why questions?
The child’s approach to questions (which i list below) might be a useful lesson for us all both as leaders and as parents.
1) Be interested and curious about what is going on around us. Be interested in what other people are doing and what they are curious about. You may find out important information and you may also uncover opportunities for collaboration. (Children call this making friends – in business we call it networking).
2) Use open questions. Questions which require more than a yes/no answer. Questions which start with how, what, why. Ask about how people feel about things as this question is much easier to answer than answering the question what do you think. When investigating ask why and keep asking why.
3) Resist the temptation to interpret too early, to jump (and we probably do) to too quick a conclusion. Dig a little deeper and it is more likely you will uncover what is really going on.
Try it and let me know how you get on.