Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change
By Frank Sesno
Review by Robert Morris
Frank Sesno explains how developing “the power of questions” can help almost anyone to achieve both short- and long-term objectives, whatever they may be.
For example, peak performers in executive search claim that they learn much more about candidates from the questions they ask than from their responses to questions.
Note: All of the recent research that I have examined indicates that, in a face-to-face interaction, body language and tone of voice determine 75-80% of impact; what is said only 20-25%.
Sesno identifies and explains eleven types of questions – “driven by its own approach and listening skills” -- and devotes a separate chapter to each. They are:
Diagnostic: “What’s the problem?” “When did it begin?” “What are we missing?” “What do we know for certain?”
Strategic: “What are you trying to accomplish?” “How?” “Why?” Obstacles? Options? How will you know when you succeed?
Empathic: “What’s going on?” “How are you feeling?” “How can I help?”
Bridging: These are “questions without question marks” (brief remarks, actually) that connect with people who are wary, reluctant, perhaps even hostile or menacing. “That’s an interesting perspective.” “A number of people share that view.” “I hadn’t looked at it that way until you mentioned it.” You get the idea.
Confrontational: “Were you there when it happened?” “Are you responsible?” “Was that what you intended?” “Why didn’t you stop it?” Take the given allegation and, add a question mark, and throw it at the accused.
Creative: Help people to think beyond the familiar, the obvious, what everyone knows or thinks they do. “If you had a magic wand, what would you change? Why?” “What’s the next Big Thing?” “What would you like to be able to say about your organization in twelve months that you can’t say now?”
Mission: These questions seek to determine a common goal, shared values, and opportunities to turn a challenge into an opportunity. “What is most important to you? Why?” “What drives your career?” “How can we work together to achieve the objectives we share?”
Scientific: These questions focus on which is objective. “What is possible?” “How much, how fast, how big, how far?” “Which of our assumptions and premises create the most problems?” These questions are “building blocks, which often raise more questions along the way, allowing you to explore the unknown.”
Interview: These questions look into the future. “What would you really like to do?” “What are you proudest of?” “What’s the biggest setback you’ve had and what did you do about it?”
Entertaining: These are three-course questions that can spice up a conversation. They can reveal what is interesting, fascinating, previously unknown (to you). “What is the one thing in the world that blows you away?” “If the human race were able to travel to Mars, would change?” “Which people throughout history would you most like to meet and have a conversation with? Why? What would you most like to know?”
Legacy: These questions focus on the past. That is, people known, defining moments, greatest successes and failures, etc. “What are you proudest of?” “What do you know now that you wish you knew when you graduated from high school?” “What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your failures?”
These are questions to ask others but also to ask ourselves. Long ago, during his trial, Socrates asserted that an unexamined life isn’t worth living. Obviously, Frank Sesno agrees with him.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Robert Morris. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.