When was the last time you asked your colleague a really good question?
You know, the kind of question that helped them move forward when they were stuck.
When we take the time to ask our colleagues open and generous questions, we model a style of communication that creates open, more connected relationships in which transformation becomes possible.
Parker Palmer, the world renowned author and activist, has written about two kinds of questions that we often ask. The first are questions that are efficient; these are the ones that help move us forward and can push a team to excel. They are ones like:
What are the next steps?
Which strategy should we adopt?
Who has a relationship with a strategic partner to help us set up a meeting?
Answers to efficient questions are equally precise and may come in the form of a list, a contact person or ‘yes/no’ answer.
There is a whole other set of questions that can energize and sustain us as we continue to commit to our work over the long haul.
These are the kinds of questions for which efficiency has no place. They are the questions that we carry with us and we may even change our answer to them over time. They are the questions that help us move toward right action and to respond to the higher nature of character. They are generous questions and include:
How can I show up as a team player?
How can I be faithful to the better sides of my nature, the side that is patient, kind and giving?
How can I lean into my essential gifts as I try to move a project forward?
With Passover approaching, we are entering into the season of questions. The story of the Jewish people’s collective freedom unfolds in the pages of the Haggadah which is prompted by the questions from the youngest and most innocent amongst us.
I know we all have it in us to pause, and ask the kinds of questions to our colleagues, bosses and those we supervise, that can be liberating. When we practice asking better questions, our practice becomes a habit that can sustain us on the long journey of sharing our work with the world.