We all ask questions on a daily basis. Some questions you direct to others and some to yourself. If you want to get the best answer to your questions, you need to be sure you have asked the right questions. Some words have more power than others. It is possible to make your questions more powerful.
Sometimes words have a meaning to the listener that you are not aware of. For instance, the comment, “I wish I was happier” may sound like someone wants to be happier. However, is that the whole message? Maybe he/she wants to be happier, but the word “wish” indicates that he/she does not really believe it is possible. If the person believed it was possible to be happier, he/she would have said, “I need or want to be happier.”
Sometimes when you ask yourself or someone else a question, the question is poorly worded and ambiguous. Therefore, you receive faulty or incomplete information back. Some examples of questions like that are:
Will I be happy? There are ways of being happy that may go against your values. A better way to phrase this question would be, “How can I create more happiness in my life?”
Should I take the new job? The word should causes guilt. The first step is to be clear about what your primary goal is, i.e. experience or security. Then rephrase your question, “If ______ (experience) is my primary goal, how will taking this job help me?” Or “If_______ (security) is my primary goal, how will taking this job help me?”
When will I retire? A more specific variation of this question might be, “When (or how) will I be financially secure enough to retire? Or “When will I be able to comfortably afford the kind of lifestyle I want?”
A good question provides the information you need and satisfies three requirements:
1. Each question must be specific and clear so that an accurate answer is possible. Review the sample questions mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
2. Each question needs to be simple or have only one part. Compound questions are confusing because one part may be true and the other part false. Usually your intuition will only answer the first part.
3. Each question needs to be directly relevant to the issue you want to know about. For instance, when you really want to know if ABC Corporation stock is a good investment, instead of asking if ABC Corporation is a good company, ask if it will be a good investment over a given time period.
In her book, Change Your Questions Change Your Life (2004), Marilee Adams, Ph.D. believes you can change your future by asking the right questions. As we go through life, you need to choose words that are solution rather than blame or problem focused when asking yourself or others questions. To practice, try using some of the following questions with yourself to keep you moving forward in your personal and professional life:
What do I want?
What can I learn from this?
What am I responsible for?
What is the other person thinking, feeling, needing, and wanting?
What is possible?
What are my choices?
What is the best thing for me to do now?
Is this feeling related to the current situation, or is it related to some old situation, person, or feeling?
What are the consequences?
What other information do I need?
If you slightly reword some of the above questions, they can be helpful to other people also.
If change and action are what you are looking for, asking more powerful questions can alter your perception and attitude. Try this with yourself, and see how it helps you get results.