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Ask the right questions: Why?

We’ve learned about listening the past two weeks (if you missed them, check out part 1 and part 2), and great listeners are willing to ask questions. Why is it important to ask the right questions?  How does this impact our work in coalitions and teams?

In my experience, there are many reasons it’s important to ask the right questions, particularly of those who have experience and knowledge that we don’t have or don’t fully understand. This week, we will highlight 3 reasons why it is important to ask the right questions.

    1. Honoring.  When we ask our colleagues, partners and team members for their input and their perspective, we honor them and value their contribution. When people feel valued and respected, they are more likely to continue to participate and contribute to the collective mission, goals and objectives of the coalition.  This is very connected to our recent listening posts. When we listen skillfully, we are in a position to ask really good questions and to show honor to others.
    2. Learning.  Similar to our post focused on being a “teacher of others and learner from others”, when we ask the right questions, we have an opportunity to continually learn from others. We can humbly approach others with an open mind and willingness to listen to what they say and do something about it.  When we keep asking questions and learning from others, it helps us with decision-making and priority setting as well as determining the best strategies to implement and the best time to implement them. We can also learn who might be the right fit for a particular position on our team as well as who has the resources that might be able to expand the current reach of our project.
    3. Redirecting. When we ask the right questions, we have an opportunity to redirect our plans and strategies – sometimes before (and sometimes after) – we make a decision that would be detrimental to our progress.  By asking the right questions of those who have expertise, particularly expertise that we do not have, we can prevent making decisions that would delay our progress and perhaps even cause negative outcomes. We can choose to go in another direction that would result in a better long-term outcome that helps us achieve our collective mission, goals and objectives.  I was recently part of a project where we thought we had the right answers and didn’t need to ask anyone else for their input; however, when it came time for implementation, we realized that we didn’t know all that we needed to know about our decision and that it was going to take a lot more time and resources to actually get the results we are hoping to achieve. If we would have asked the right questions and challenged those who didn’t want to keep asking questions, it would have saved us a tremendous amount of time, resources and good will!

I know that there are many more reasons why it’s important to ask the right questions. What are some other reasons you have found it important to ask the right questions of your members and partners?

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Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

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