Fieldamental #18: Ask Questions

ASK QUESTIONS. The quality of the information you get is directly related to the quality of the questions you ask.  Be curious, ask thoughtful questions, and listen intently to the answers.  Be more interested in asking and listening than in speaking.  Asking questions is the best way to learn and is critical to Field’s overall approach.  Be a sponge.

This could be one of the most important Fieldamentals.  I say that because being committed at asking really good questions will help you embrace many of the Fieldamentals.  Nothing is more important to sound decision-making than having a clear and complete picture or understanding of the facts.  Asking thought-provoking questions will help you better understanding your situation, challenge, or opportunity.  The better you understand the situation, challenge, or opportunity the more likely you will be to resolve or improve it.

Asking good questions is a very learnable skill that starts with a genuine interest in gaining knowledge from someone else.  Ask questions to understand, listen carefully to the answers, probe deeper for more information, and ask follow up questions to develop clarity.  Prepare a series of questions when you need to better understand an issue.  I try to prepare way more questions than I will eventually ask because as the conversation unfolds, some of the questions may not be appropriate, and many questions will naturally flow from the dialogue.  Having prepared questions allows you to stay focused on gaining information and directing the conversation.  Begin with big picture questions that start with phrases like, ‘tell me about’, ‘help me understand’, ‘why, ’explain’, etc.  These are open ended questions that can’t be answered with yes or no.  As you get some information, keep digging into the specific aspects trying  to get additional details with more open ended questions like,  ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘tell me more about’, etc.  Try to ask questions to get multiple perspectives on the same issue.  Asking similar questions to different people involved in the same situation may give you a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the facts.

The Field Team is full of really smart people that are willing to share their subject matter expertise if you are interested in learning from them.  Ask them questions, learn from each other, be a learning sponge regardless of how long you have been a part of the team.  Learning doesn’t stop on your 5th, 10th or 20th anniversary with Field; it only stops when you decide to stop learning new stuff.