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The Power of Wanting to know







The Power of Wanting to know

Jan 26, 2021 by Stingo Chan


Imagine there is a coin. On one side, you see the word “Knowing all Answers”. You get energized and excited. Knowing the answers always seem to give us a sense of recognition, achievement, satisfaction and confidence. As a child we tell people we know the answers, our parents love us, so as our teachers and friends. When we start to work as adults, our bosses treasure us, our peers welcome us and our direct reports admire us. When we are in relationship, wouldn't be a good feeling that we feel we know all the answers without asking any questions.


Yet reality is always a bit different.


If we look at our educational system, exam plays an important role. The exam scores represent how much we know the answer. When we know the answer, we seem to get awards form the system, recognition from teacher and attention from friends. At some point if we don’t, or in many ways just not necessarily agree with the model answers and start asking questions, despite its relevance, there are not many rewards.


At workplace, we are often rewarded by having the “right” answers. Rightly so, leaders are hired to fix problems, provide solutions and respond in situations. It seems very normal to have an expectation about knowing the answers. Additionally, leaders need to rationalize and justify with the “answers” we come up as we need to believe that are the right answers.


In relationship. When we start to meet with somebody whom we like, we want to know all the answers. Is the person the one ? Will this work ? Am I doing okay ? Will they like me ? Can I make them happy ? Can they make me happy ? When we fall in love, we don't seem to question much and we feel we have all the answers in our heart. There is a sense of how lucky we are that we feel we know that person. Their thoughts, feelings and choices. Others also feel great when they are not questioned.


Let’s take a look of the other side of the coin. The other side you see the word “Asking Questions”. What does it really mean ?


If we look at our educational system, let’s explore more by asking questions :


· Shouldn’t school be the best place to cultivate interests, curiosity and passion ?

· What is the relationship between these elements and asking quality questions ?

· What are the benefits for the individual, institutions and society if students are able to ask quality questions ?


“Explore” is word here, we explore by asking questions. We often say in schools we want to develop independent thinkers and asking question is a part of the key process. It is a process for us to discover what we love, what we believe and what is important.


Without the assumption that we already know the answer, here are some more questions :


· Do we prepare our young generation what they need to succeed in the future world ?

· How do we motivate students to learn these days ?

· What kind of people (or profile) do we attract as teachers and what do teaching professionals need to learn for themselves and the students ?


If we look at the workplace, let’s explore more questions :


· How do organizations currently develop leaders ?

· What is the relationship between the ability of asking quality questions and a competent leader ?

· What are the rewards for the leaders when they ask questions ?


We often say in organizations we want to develop leaders who are strategic and adaptive in solving complex issues. Yet good leaders are not necessarily the one knowing all the answers. “All” is the key word here. We know good solutions often comes from the one who is responsible for their own tasks. A great leader provides a safe environment for the team to say what’s on their mind by asking good questions to find out what’s truly happening.


Without the assumption that we already know the answer, here are some more questions :


· To what extent do we believe asking questions is an essential competency for a great leader in organizations ?

· How do we leverage organizational culture to promote and encourage our employees to ask valid questions ?

· Do our employees feel safe enough to ask sensible and confrontational questions to challenge one’s beliefs and assumptions and do the right thing ?


If we look at relationship, let’s explore more questions :


· What do we really look for in a relationship ?

· How relevant is asking question for sustaining a healthy relationship ?

· What are the rewards for couples if they are willing to ask more questions with each other ?


In relationship, there are moments when both needs are not met. Often it pushes us to ask more questions. When we ask questions, sometimes we are genuinely curious about exploring what others think and yet sometimes we might also hope others’ thinking will align with us. To the extreme sometimes we might already have the answers before we even ask the questions. When people are stressed or intense in a relationship, we tend not to have capacity to be creative and come up with right questions. The questions that are truly reflective without blaming, justifying or denying.


Without the assumption that we already know the answer, here are some more questions :


· Does great and healthy relationship build on curiosity to understand the inner thoughts, feelings and the way of sense making of our partner ?

· What would happen if we treat our loved one like we don’t know them ?

· When and why do we stop asking questions for each other ?



How about more questions to ask :


· Is it natural for people who feel curious to have more questions ?

· What is the relationship between the consciousness or emotional health level of individuals and the level of quality questions ?

· What kind of questions do we tend to ask when we are very sure we are right ? And how does it feel when we are able to hold different perspectives without a conclusion ?

· What's the most rewarding intrinsic feelings can one have when asking questions passionately and curiously ?

· In what ways quality questions can create ownership, provide insights and reinforce commitment ?


I hope this article provides some space to think of these questions and encourage us to ask more questions than rushing to know all the answers. There is a difference between knowing and wanting to know. Wanting to know suggests curiosity of keep exploring, tenacity of disconfirming and the desire to know the truth.


What questions do you now having after reading this article ?

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