Not getting what you need?

notebook with blank pages

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.

Pynchon’s Proverbs for Paranoids

When we ask the wrong questions, we’re unlikely to get the answers we need. For example, if you’re trying to improve your productivity at work, asking, “How can I work longer hours?” might not be the most compelling question. Instead, asking, “How can I work smarter, not harder?” might lead to more helpful answers.

What do you need?

It’s no good providing an answer if you haven’t established a need.

Neil Rackham

Another common mistake is assuming we already know what we need. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers, but sometimes we need to take a step back and reevaluate our situation.

Let’s say you’re planning a vacation. Before booking any old trip, it’s crucial to establish what you need from a vacation. Do you need a relaxing getaway or an adventure-filled trip? Do you need to stay in a luxurious hotel, or is a cosy cabin in the woods more your style? Once you establish your needs, you can start looking for vacation packages and destinations that meet those needs.

Remember these five steps

So, what can you do if you’re not getting what you need?

  1. Don’t assume you already know what you need – take the time to establish your needs first.
  2. Be curious, ask (yourself) open-ended questions and make sure they are not leading questions.
  3. Be specific and clear. Vague questions lead to vague answers
  4. Ask questions you do not know the answer to. The goal is to acquire new information, not to get confirmation
  5. Listen actively and open-mindedly, and follow up with more questions to get more understanding.

By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to find the answers that meet your needs. Remember: if you’re asking the wrong questions, you’ll never get the answers you need.

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