Use the Power of Questions to Your Advantage
by Chris King

Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman in their excellent book What to Ask When You Don't Know What to Say write, "Questions have the power to turn confusion into clarity, resistance into acceptance, division into consensus, and the frustration of not knowing what to say into the satisfaction of having said it. …

Simply understand and accept what effective communicators already know: Questions are magic." If we as free agents, independent professionals, and freelancers put questions to proper use, we will not only discover our own special career path, we also will be able to get and achieve anything we want. In this article, I will share some ideas about how to use the magic of questions.

Don't ever hesitate to ASK. Recently a man who was taking one of my classes shared that he had experienced an incredible hour of face-to-face interaction with Brian Tracy, the well known speaker and author. He was attending a convention where Tracy was the featured speaker. "How much did you have to pay for this?" asked another attendee. "The price of a cup of coffee," was the answer. My student had called Tracy ahead of time and asked if they could meet for coffee sometime during the convention.

Oftentimes, all we need to do is ASK for something we want and we will be happily rewarded by receiving it. Just remember, that the worst that can happen is that the answer might be, "No." If you want to work for a particular company, association, or group, find out who is in charge of hiring and ask if you can send information and/or set up an interview. If you want to be included on a special mailing list, ask if they will add your name and address. If you have accomplished some special feat and want to be featured in an article, you now know the answer - ask.

The most important questions when planning our futures are those we ask ourselves. In his well-written book Career Management for the Creative Person Lee Silber talks about how, "The possibilities are limitless, which makes the concept of planning a career overwhelming. The answer is to break it down, then simplify it and streamline it further." Following are a sample of the questions Silber suggests we ask ourselves:

  • Who is doing what I want to do and what steps did they take to get there?
  • Whom could I ask how they did it?
  • What obstacles might I face along the way and how will I deal with them?
  • What are the decision makers along the way looking for and what do I have to do to meet those needs?
  • Where is the action happening?
  • What can I do to close the gap between what I want and where I am now?
  • What skills do I need to acquire?
  • Can I make a living at this?
  • What steps do I need to take? In what order?
  • What action can I take right now, today?

When asking yourself important questions, take the time to write down your answers. There is something powerful and lasting about putting your pen to paper. Once we start physically writing (and I suggest not using a computer for this kind of writing), we become more honest with ourselves and our aspirations. There is also a feeling of permanence and a call to action when we express ourselves in writing (or another alternative is on tape). It is almost like making a contract with ourselves. And we will be less likely to "go back on our word." I suggest purchasing a hard cover journal (they come in all sizes) and a special pen of you choice and start writing the questions and then the answers. You will be amazed by how quickly your life and career start to fall into place.

Just remember that asking good questions will work their magic. But, also remember that the excellent communicator not only asks questions, he and/or she listens to the answers from both themselves and others.


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