Bill Nye said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.”
Stay interested and curious about what others are saying or doing so you have the opportunity to learn something new every day.Ask open ended questions because closed questions will only get you an answer that you already thought of.When you ask open questions the other person will carry the conversation into new, maybe unexpected directions.That can be so much more fun.Then you have the unequaled opportunity to learn and share what you learned with someone else.Pass it on.
A new book by Mehta and Fine about remaking U.S. high schools says their research shows it is the extra curricular work in teams to accomplish a big task, such as putting on a theater production, where they learned and enjoyed the most.
The authors, credit these type of projects with instilling critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication, all I suggest essential in the business world. The authors also included content mastery though I would say given the ease of using technology to look things up, is not as important as having enough knowledge to recognize what you do and don’t know.
Instilling the the skills that make up critical thinking can improve collaboration and effective communication because it requires bringing in various viewpoints, asking good questions, listening effectively to each other, and working through more than one logical position or argument.
No one can take your education away from you. What you learn is yours forever. OK I know there are diseases that can rob our memories. I’m not denying that. But other than that your life is enriched by knowledge, by curiosity, by interest, by paying attention, by seeking more understanding, more than anything else you can acquire.
When you are feeling defensive the last thing you might want is to hear more negative comments. But if you show openness to hear what the other person is saying it can change the mood and tone of the ‘conversation.’
It also gives you time to reflect. What is prompting the comments? Why are you feeling defensive? Is there some truth you would want to know? Is there something you want to acknowledge? Rather than deny, perhaps you want to say, ‘there might be some truth in what you are saying.’ I didn’t realize, or I didn’t mean what it sounded like.
Questions are a sign of intelligence, of interest, of curiosity, of caring about the other person and the topic, and of being a critical thinker. Can you think of anything else you can say that is this powerful?
Questions, to be able to drink in that power, must be paired with power listening.
Once you ask that question, it is essential that you become silent, wait for and pay attention to the answer.
Some people try to answer their own questions. Some think that the other person pausing to think before answering means they don’t know what to answer.
Just like asking the question is a sign of interest in the other person, waiting and paying attention to the answer is a sign of respect.
Young children are naturally curious. Too often we get impatient with their incessant questions and dampen their curiosity. Curiosity is a good thing, even a great thing.
With associates as with children, it may be advantageous to ask them a question when they ask you for an answer. How have you tried to answer this so far? Or how could you explore the idea yourself to find possible answers? Be sure to encourage the thought that there may be several good answers not just one. What options have you thought of, so far? How can you search out multiple options and then make a choice among the options?
As with all questions you ask, unless you are a teacher testing your students, only ask questions you are not already certain of the answer. You have to be open to the ideas and answers you will hear. You have to want to hear creative and unusual answers.
Ask, how will you explore options and compare them?
Here are some ideas to share as ways to compare and contrast possible paths to make thoughtful conclusions.
Force yourself or your team to write down as many options as possible. Challenge yourselves to list at least 10 ways to solve the problem, or some number that requires a bigger list than you think is possible. The reason for the stretch list is that the first ones you think about will be the same old boring over-used answers. It is only when you have to come up with larger numbers of answers that you get into the creative and interesting solutions.
Some ideas that would normally get rejected without exploring will make it on to the list.
Every option listed deserves some what-if and how-could-it-work analysis.
Combinations and permutations of the various options can sometimes evolve into a better solution than any of the answers listed individually.
The process of brainstorming options will get your brain on a roll allowing you to keep coming up with more ideas after you thought you were finished. Keep paper and pencil or a recorder handy and record every idea no matter how far-fetched.
Your brand, your organization and you yourself will be differentiated by all the great ideas, solutions, and the ideation process itself. People are attracted by and buy from organizations that are clearly differentiated.