The best leaders, teachers, and critical thinkers all share a common trait – they ask good questions.
They know that the only way to get better answers is to ask better questions. Asking questions narrows your focus, eliminates contradictions, and gets you to the core of your inquiry.
Socrates famously used the “Socratic method” to teach his students in ancient Greece. Instead of directly lecturing, he asked questions. Leading his followers to come to conclusions on their own, and adapt their way of thinking to build new knowledge.
You can also use better questions to improve your life. When you encounter challenges, need to make a change, or simply need a check on your thought patterns.
Here are some examples:
When Facing a Challenge
- What is something good that can come from this?
- How would I advise a friend to handle this?
- What did I learn from this?
When Making a Change
- What is the one thing I can do to have the most impact?
- What recurring habits lead to the outcome I’m aiming for?
- How can I make this enjoyable?
On Checking Thought Patterns
- What are the emotions that I’m feeling right now?
- Have I felt this way before? What did I do?
- Is this something that is in my control?
It’s important to recognize that it’s usually not the first question that makes the difference. It’s the continuation of questions that gets you to the root of your exploration. Asking how, why, what, over and over until you find yourself at a meaningful resolution.
So the next time you find yourself seeking better answers, start by asking better questions.