The Low-Key Art of Asking The Right Questions

photo of einstein thinking

“If I had an hour to solve a problem…I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask, for once I know the proper question, I can solve the problem in less than five minutes.” - Albert Einstein  04.01.24

Why Are Questions A Quiet Superpower?

Questions are the ultimate skill in learning. Everything we learn stems from them. They provoke curiousity and force us to think. They are the foundation in finding the solutions to our problems. Any answer we obtain comes from directly from a question we asked.

Well if you're not asking the right questions, then you’re definitely getting the wrong answers. Questions are a massive part of our everyday lives. They act as a bridge to getting to know ourselves, others, and the world around us.

If Google has taught us anything, it's not just about the question itself, but more importantly how it's phrased. In today's digital world, where we heavily rely on search engines to get us through our day, if we don't know how to formulate the questions properly, then chances are we probably won't be finding the answers to what we are looking for. Without thinking, we hit Google fifty times a day.

"I need to replace the alternator on my Nissan Sentra: Google."
"I want to figure out how to have my text be two different colors over an image: Google."
"What is the best recipe for a homemade pizza dough: Google."

photo of a text being split down the middle the top being one color and the bottom being another

When Asking The Wrong Question

I must have spent atleast twenty minutes the other day trying to figure this out. It got to the point where my frustration was taking over and I had to take a step back. I started with “How to have two different font colors over an image border?”. This probably makes no sense to you. How would you search for instructions on how to create the image to the right? That was only one of my many many attempts. What came up was “How to Create Split Color Text” and of course I’m thinking duh, Split color, like It’s split in two. Everything I had been typing was leading me to dead ends. My attempts we're meaningless and I was getting no closer to the answer for all that time spent. If we can't formulate the question properly, how the hell are we going to find the answer? See what I'm saying? If we don't know the question, how can we expect to find the right answer? Whether it's music production, fixing a part of your car, coding out a new idea, or simply finding a recipe; The right question will lead you to the right answer.

We Deep Learn Through Asking Questions

Seems like a no-brainer but it’s true. The only way we can pull new information from the world is by proposing questions and then sourcing answers. Questions stimulate discussions and force us to think critically. They encourage deeper learning. They help us to revisit our own thoughts and opinions on a matter, which can then strengthen those thoughts and opinions further. They expand our knowledge-base, and aid us in our learning journey.

In Our Relationships They Help Establish Trust

The foundation of any meaningful relationship is trust. And the best way to establish trust in any relationship is through communication. Nobody can just tap into your brain and know exactly what you're thinking at all times. We learn about what our partner is thinking by asking questions and listening. We make friends and surround ourselves with like-minded people by learning more about them. Questions again? Without proper communication, trust cannot be established, and trust is literally 99% of any relationship. If I can’t trust you how can we live happily side by side? There will always be doubts and anxiety. Fears will fill the space between us. It’s hard to ask certain questions, ones that make us feel vulnerable. But by doing so and showing our vulnerable side, we are establishing trust and showing that we too are human, we don't know everything. And let's be real, nobody likes a know-it-all. It's annoying how annoying they are.

  • - How have you changed in the last year? How have I changed?
  • - What or who has influenced your life decisions the most?
  • - What did you dream about being when you grew up?
  • - What’s something that’s missing in your life?

  • They Help Get Rid Of Confusion and Misunderstanding

    Again not to be repetitive but we have no way of reading each other’s minds. We may have thought we were on the same page because no-one ever stopped to ask the question “Are we on the same page here?”. Questions help ensure that we are aligned with our thought processes which in turn will aid us in our efficiency and productivity. In the workplace, it's important to understand where your coworkers are at in their thoughts to make sure goals, priorities, and deadlines are met. We may even discover new problems along the way because certain questions were proposed.

    Questions Show Vulnerability and Emotional Intelligence

    Being able to show that you don't know everything and that you have a willingness to learn is important. It takes a certain amount of bravery to ask questions because it's basically stating "I don't know, tell me more". They increase your self-awareness and naturally help cultivate a growth mindset. They help us point out our mistakes and identify where we can implement a change.
    comic of calvin and hobbes

    Conclusion: Questions Help Cultivate A Growth Mindset

    I came across a book about five years back that had a profound impact on my life. It's called "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol Dweck. In short, the book explains the importance of having a growth mindset rather than a fixed one. It shows how changing our beliefs about our abilities can lead to greater success in all areas of life. These said changes stem directly from asking the right questions. We are all ultimately striving to be our best while making life a little more manageable. We can achieve this through asking the right questions. We can achieve this by fine-tuning the low-key art of it all.