A confession. I haven’t always asked the right questions. As a young woman, I spoke about my favourite subject constantly. Myself.
Someone let me know. I was mortified. Who says feedback is a gift?! Of course it was; I just didn’t see it at the time.
So with the help of self help books I learned how to listen, a key knack to which is asking good questions. Having squandered personal energy by failing to concentrate on other people’s understanding of the world, listening productively opened the world up to me like a rose being filmed in time lapse motion.
I embraced silence pauses and steadied my brain, which would by default toss thoughts around wildly in anticipation of stealing the next sentence.
So it was lovely to arrive at the first Questions of Difference Advisory Board session late last month to find that there among the croissants and the coffee were little questions distributed to us on strips of paper along with our name badges, as if this was perfectly normal. (Perhaps it is, but I’m in my forties and it’s never happened to me before at a get together of fellow communicators).
Over coffee we started to debate what we’d answer to the questions we’d been handed – on our favourite smells, what we’d miss on earth if we were leaving it in a rocket forever, the last thing that made us cry. Without realising it, we had leap-frogged small talk. For someone who finds networking hard – like many others – I sat down for the session having learned more about my fellow delegates than most of the colleagues I share a floor with at work every day.
We were ready as a group of around 20 strangers to confide in each other, to open up. So if Questions of Difference could unlock us through questions on a January morning, it makes me want to know more about how they can unlock ideas, unlock innovation and unlock organisations. Questions create listening, and from listening flows so much good stuff.
Founder of www.BeTeenUs.com and senior communications specialist at Thomson Reuters