Is the answer in the question?

What did the expression on the boy’s face tell you? Whatever you thought, curiosity may well have been in there somewhere.

What was the man eating? – He was eating a balot. What is a balot? – A fermented Duck egg. Why was the boy curious? Sorry, don’t know and can’t ask him. Where was the photo taken? – In the Philippines.

So whilst we have gained some information, we don’t know the reason for the look. A lot of decisions we make are like that – because of circumstances, decisions have to be based on incomplete information.

Have you made your mind up about what’s happening in the photo? If you have it doesn’t matter here, it’s just a bit of fun. However, in other circumstances…

making up your mind early can lessen the information…

you get and contribute to making inferior decisions.

So how can we get more complete information? In addition to feeling we really need the information, our level of curiosity counts. This could lead to questions like,

What does a balot taste like? (They are reputed to have a wonderful taste!). Or where in the Philippines? Or does the man live there?

But if you learned that it is a fertilised egg that he is eating, does that kill your curiosity and interest in it?

It can be all too easy to switch off during a conversation…

because of something that was said or happened, and this can be counter-productive.

Also, we can extend information obtained without really thinking about it, by

adding in assumptions that fit our opinions.

This can get to a point where we can no longer distinguish between the original information and our assumption

So we can make up our minds early, switch off part way through, or believe in assumptions we have made, and any of these can have a detrimental effect on the quality of our decisions.

Other reasons why we can switch off are:

  • The feeling that we’ve got ‘the’ answer
  • Time pressure encouraging us to make decisions quickly.

We can, of course, be doing any of these without realising it. On the other hand some of them might feel familiar. The point is that any of them can affect the quality of our decisions.

But, if we choose to go back into the questioning process:

We stay open-minded – the moment we feel we’ve got the answer, the mind closes off. We can open it again, sure, but at that moment it is closed and the questioning flow stops. The secret to becoming open-minded again is to make ourselves ask more questions.

We not only gain more information, but can check it for accuracy and our understanding of the replies.

To check whether we have asked enough questions, we can ask ourselves questions like:

 “Have I got all the information I need?”

 “Do I feel uncomfortable about any points that have been made?”

 If the second question gets a mental ‘yes’ answer, then why not probe to check it out?

The pressures in life encourage us to get to the decision point quickly and even to ‘live in the answer’ as this speeds up the process. The answer to that is to ‘live in the question’ more.

When interviewing for a new role staying in the question helps so the we:

Find out more about a role and what the interviewer really wants. We then have more chance of demonstrating that our skill set matches what is needed. We can therefore sell our experience in the best way.

Demonstrate our questioning skills. A good candidate will be one who questions well, (important when identifying new business on the phone), so your questioning during an interview lets the interviewer see you in action.

Really find out about the role and the company. An interview is a two way thing, so it is equally important that you ask enough questions to decide if the role and the company are for you (Just be careful not to take over the interview!). By staying in the question longer, we increase our chances of finding out what we need to know.

Ensure we understand the interviewer’s question (without appearing to answer every question with a question of course!). As a recruitment agency, we sometimes get feedback from candidates and clients on an interview and it’s often very clear that there has been a miscommunication. This sometimes loses the candidate an offer of the job. By clarifying your understanding of a question you help avoid this.

If we keep on questioning there can come a time when we’ve got all the information we need and either the answer becomes obvious, or we need to weigh up, compare and decide. So it’s time to exit questioning mode.

So, what is the connection between the photograph and getting even more success? It is that curiosity leads to questions, questions keep us open-minded and give us more and better information, and that puts us in a better position to make better decisions and better decisions contribute to more success. Simple really… (Only joking!).

Thanks for reading this, we hope you find it beneficial.

This article was written in January 2013 by Bill Paterson and the team at New Business People. If you have any requests, ideas, queries or observations, please contact us using the comments section. These are not published and could be very helpful for future articles. Thank you.



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