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 in business 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 mean less information…

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:

  • Feeling 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 enough information to make the best decision?”

“Have I probed enough to make sure that what I have been told is correct?”

There is an example of the latter in the next section…

OK, so what has this all to do with recruitment? Well, when recruiting staff maybe we can ask ourselves a few useful questions as well, such as:

 “Could there be more to this person than meets the eye?”

What are the questions that tell us about personality? And what about potential? There’s likely to be an element of job learning involved, so surely we want to feel confident in the level that the candidate can attain.

And how good a questioner is the candidate? This is particularly important with phone based promotion or sales roles.

We may choose to have several interviews with a candidate, so where do we want to get to at the end of this one?

It’s as well to bear in mind that there are people who know what to say in an interview, but in the real situation don’t actually do what they claim they do. By staying in the questioning process longer we can often get behind this smokescreen, particularly if they start contradicting what they said earlier (it happens).

If we keep on questioning there can come a time when we’ve got all the useful information we can get 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, observations or suggestions for improvement, 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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