Thursday, December 29, 2011

Asking questions versus questioning things

Questions, questions, questions. Some of us ask them because it makes us look smart, others of us ask them because it puts the onus on the questionee, and once in a while we ask because we want to learn.

Asking questions, a lot of them, is not all that good if it allows the questioner to be passive. A passive questioner is not contributing, they are making noise, they are avoiding getting in the fray with everyone else. So what's the answer? We need the questioner to contribute.

So don't ask endless questions, rather, question things. Question why something is happening and why not something else. Question your usual approach and consider another.

It may seem like semantics, but a barrage of questions fired at someone versus some thought-out questioning of specific issues is very different. The former is noise, the latter can bring engaging discussion and energizing results.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond


  1. Great post! I really enjoy reading the thought-provoking posts here on the Barry LaBov blog.

    Questioning is definitely a tricky issue. We are told there is no such thing as a stupid question. I, however, believe it all depends on the intentions behind the question that is being asked. Like you mentioned in the blog post, we ask questions for different reasons. While most of us ask questions because we wish to bring clarity to a concept we do not know enough about to fully understand, some people use questioning as a way to belittle or embarrass other people. Non-information-deriving questions that do not bring any valuable knowledge to either the questioner or the recipient are, in my opinion, not necessarily stupid, but wasted.

    I was once told never to ask a question that I am capable of finding the answer to on my own. This is based on critical thinking and the assumption that we cannot trust that anything other people tell us is rooted in absolute truth. This may seem like a time-consuming and difficult practice, but looking up answers to your own questions will expose you to a massive amount of information you probably would never have stumbled upon by accident. And we all know that knowledge is power, right?

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. It is not just semantics, you're right. There is something to being more purposeful in your questioning. Is this something that you consciously put into practice at LaBov And Beyond? Your post brings up highlights the difference between questioning just to question (going through the motions) or questioning with a purpose. I especially like your suggestion to "question your usual approach and consider another." This reminds me of my mine strategy, I like to use questions as more of probes, to get a response that then spurs a give-and-take conversation sharing ideas. Thanks Barry Labov, keep the ideas coming!