On a recent tele-class Shelley and I had the chance to interview John
Furlong, the C.E.O. for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was wonderful to
have a chance to ask questions of a leader for most of an hour long call.
At the fifty minute mark we opened up the call to let the participants in
the class have a chance to ask questions of a leader who has been working
on a massive world stage project for the past six years.
We were shocked that only one person asked a question. We
had great leaders on the call and the one question was asked by an intern
that was participating on the call. After our guest left the call we had
a few minutes to debrief what we had just experienced. One of the
participants mentioned a great question that he would have liked to ask
our guest. It was a question that was never asked
I am sure we have all experienced it. We have so many
opportunities to ask and yet often we don't. The person we didn't ask to
dance. The question we wish we asked our parents when they were alive.
The question that might have helped us truly understand what we were
trying to learn. Asking for something we wanted to have and perhaps could
have had, but we didn't ask. Think about the supplementary questions that
would have given us more understanding beyond the one question we asked.
Why don't we ask? Great question!
It could be because we have forgotten that we can. Children
are brilliant at asking questions. They want to learn and they understand
that when they ask a question they typically get an answer. What happens
when we grow up? We learn that if we ask questions it could mean we don't
know everything. If we don't know everything we can be vulnerable. If we
are vulnerable we can appear weak. Well then we better not ask any
Instead of asking questions people make assumptions about things. This
truly gets in the way of great communication.
Why don't we ask questions? Maybe we are afraid of the
answer or afraid of what people will think about our question. Perhaps
when we leave school and begin our careers we somehow loose the ability
to be a curious learner. Maybe we have assumed we already know the
Here is the opportunity that is in front of you. Get used to asking
questions. It does a lot to create complete communications and helps you
to get rid of a lot of assumptions.
Shelley and I have an exercise we use sometimes with clients where we
give them the challenge of only asking questions for a certain time
period. Whether it is 10 minutes, half an hour or an hour, it teaches
people the powerful lesson that when we ask questions we can learn a lot.
In a world where we have a lot of relationships that are not all that
connected the simple act of asking questions and truly getting to know
each other can take a relationship much deeper.
What question will you ask?
If you could have a conversation with anyone in the world, who would
What would you ask that person?
What question will you ask today?