The Daily Challenge: Ask Questions Now, Make Better Decisions Later


Use questions to make better decisions.

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More Questions.

Time to read: 4 mins 

Have you ever told a friend that you would meet them at a certain coffee shop, just to discover they went to a different coffee shop with the same name....all the way across town? 

If you knew there were two coffee shops with the same name, you might slow down to clarify which one. But if both of you thought there was only one coffee shop, neither of you would have bothered to ask the address.

Why? Because you assumed you knew the answer already. 

Clarifying questions can be an incredible tool for reducing miscommunication in every part of your life - but especially at work.

Yet we so often skip these questions because we assume other people are reaching the same conclusions we're reaching.

The problem is that everyone has different experiences, information, and preferences. As a result, they are likely to understand a situation differently from you and are likely to have different expectations. 

There's a solution.To reduce miscommunication, make it a strong habit of always clarifying situations by asking at least a couple questions. As you get into this habit of thinking to ask clarifying questions, the quality and utility of your questions will increase. 

To form a habit, we find it helpful to select a few "go-to" questions for various situations. For example, when you're coordinating meetings or events, you might have one set of go-to clarifying questions. Whereas if you are working on a project, you may have a different set of questions. 

The Challenge: Today, make it a habit to ask at least two clarifying questions before walking away from any situation. 

To get started, we recommend thinking about whether or not you have all of the information you need to make a decision.

If you are coordinating a project at work, for example, you may want to ask: 

  • What is a successful outcome for this project? 

  • Who should be pulled into the decision making process early on? Who should we pull in a bit later? 

  • Are there any specific deadlines we should be aware of? 

  • What expectations do each of the stakeholders have around the quality of the outcome? Are you looking to complete a quick version or a very polished final version?

  • Does anyone have extra information that we should be aware of? For example, perhaps this project has been done in the past and someone could share their learnings. 

Pro Tip:  Clarifying questions are also a great tool for difficult conversations. Asking questions about the other person's perspective before taking your turn to talk is a great way to gather helpful insight while also building trust. 

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