Are you asking Genuine Questions? | Blue Sky - Experts in People Change

Are you asking Genuine Questions?

Not all questions are genuine.

Genuine questions come from curiosity and compassion – a desire for us to learn while temporarily suspending judgment rather than proving to others we are right, and they are wrong.

When we question genuinely, we make it as easy as possible for people to express how they see things differently, including how we may could be contributing to a problem.

Unfortunately, many people think they are demonstrating genuine questions and curiosity, but instead they use questions to show others what they think themselves.

Think about the questions you ask.

Questions that start with contractions, as in “Don’t you think…?” are often not genuinely curious because they embed your own view in the question.

As supposed to a genuine question starting with an open-ended word, “What do you think?”. If you are genuinely asking questions, your curiosity and compassion will show in your tone of voice.

Take a look at the questions below and identify whether you think the question is genuinely curious or not. If not, what makes it not genuine?

  1. “Why don’t we just try it this way and see how it works?”
  2. “I understand we’ve got an HR issue here, but what possessed you to call Jane?”
  3. “How do you see this situation?”
  4. “Would it be a good idea if we got this up on the flipchart?”
  5. “Why can’t you just follow the process like everyone else?”

If you find yourself asking questions like these, consider this:

Question 3 is the only genuinely curious question – it’s straight-forward, with no strings attached. The others are not genuinely curious.

Curiosity is the desire to learn.

When you’re genuinely curious, you assume that other people may have information that you don’t have. You also assume that others may see things that you may miss. As a result, you consider your point of view open to change.

When you’re genuinely curious, your questions come easily and naturally.

A genuine question is one that stems from curiosity.

You ask so that you may learn something you don’t already know.
In contrast, a rhetorical or leading question is one you ask to make your point of view known without explicitly stating it.

For example, the question, “Do you really think that will work?” is not a genuine question because embedded in your question is your own view that you doubt it will work.

However, you can easily convert it to a genuine question by first stating your views. You might say, “I’m not seeing how this will work because … What are you seeing that leads you to think it will work?”

By stating our views and asking others we do not have to choose between the two.
We get to share our thoughts and reasoning and influence others at the same time we learn about others’ thoughts and reasoning and are open to being influenced by them.

Genuine Questions Come From:

  • Having the right intent
  • Curiosity and the desire to learn
  • The assumption that others may see things that you do not

Judgemental or Leading Questions Come From:

  • The desire to make a point
  • The sense that you already have the answer
  • The assumption that you are right
  • Begin with a contraction (wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t, isn’t, etc.)
  • Contain words or tone that can be easily interpreted as judgemental
  • Embed your point of view in the question

Learn to be genuinely curious: It will help you get better information and make better decisions.


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