Typically when you’re asked questions, others are looking for answers. At times, answers aren’t the best answers, though.

I updated a recent blog post on how a mid-career professional can create a social media presence with a post-presentation video explaining the 11 steps covered at the live session. The video’s addition changed the nature of the post, and I tweeted it with an updated title.  Sharon Corasaro (@GrowingGold on Twitter) answered the tweet with several great tweets about the post, followed by a detailed comment on the post itself.

Based on Sharon’s receptivity to the topic, I asked if she’d like a longer article on the 11 steps we’d been kicking around as a potential ebook from The Brainzooming Group.  She said she would, and I asked for her thoughts on the content’s value since we had varying perspectives about it.

Sharon’s email response, rather than being the simple “liked it / didn’t like it / and here’s why” answer I expected, was an incredibly thorough set of questions. She asked questions about the piece’s intent, what we hoped to accomplish with it as an ebook, and what the plan was for distributing it to the target audience.

I asked for answers, and Sharon gave me questions.

But you know what?

The questions provided exactly the answers I needed.

In replying to her email and thinking about the questions, a completely new idea for how the content could be used emerged. I hadn’t considered this strategy before, but it could well be a much higher impact way to distribute the content and benefit an important audience for us.

I wanted fast answers, and Sharon offered incredibly thought-provoking strategic questions.

There’s a big lesson there: the next time somebody’s looking to you to answer a question or solve a problem for them, the most beneficial thing you can do may very well be to answer with a question instead. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve helped brands get to great answers using just the right questions.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6 Responses to “Questions When You Want Answers”

  1. Karen says:

    It used to drive me crazy when someone would answer a question with a question, I would often view it as them being evasive. I agree with you, when I started really thinking about what they were asking, it led me to think/rethink the whole issue, and as you pointed out, come up with a better solution in the long run.

    Funny how that works, eh?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is funny, Karen. It’s hard to ask ourselves the questions we need to be asking. Those are the times you need people you can depend on to ask challenging questions which help you refine and expand your own thinking.

  2. Liz Craig says:

    Earlier in life, I used to think clients would think I was dumb if I didn’t come into a meeting with all the answers. But now, I understand it’s smart to be a little bit dumb, or rather, naive. Now I know the most valuable thing I can do is ask questions, listen to the client’s answers, and learn what they’re up against. Then I know enough to help them develop good solutions.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a great learning and a mark of real confidence to ask questions, Liz. I’ll admit for as many times as I do ask questions, there are lots of times when I should be asking MORE clarifying questions than I actually do. It’s a life-long learning process, I guess!

  3. I am so humbled that my natural query process provoked such positive impact, AND, led to such positive unfolding. Completely taken aback that it also led to this post… Wow, ultimate compliment!

    Very grateful I could help… and excited to share more thoughts!


    … Here’s to… natural query… unfolding… inventive, creative and innovative solutions… just because, someone asked ~ 🙂

    All my best to you Mike! ~ Sharon


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