Five Wrong Questions to Ask

Marilee Adams' second edition of her bestselling work explores further the concept of questions and knowing the right questions to ask at the right times. However, Some of the questions we all ask prove to be more detrimental than helpful. Consider these five questions that you should avoid asking yourself at all times, even though they may still seem natural and familiar. All of these questions have built-in assumptions that can prevent the question asker from being successful or satisfied.

As you go through your day, listen to the questions you’re asking yourself and then wonder whether the inherent assumptions serve you. Sometimes you’ll find that you can be more successful and satisfied by changing your questions.

1. Why can’t I ever get anything right?

This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:
• Assumes that one is, was, and always will be incompetent and unsuccessful
• Assumes that there is nothing one can do about this “truth”

2. How did I get stuck with this idiot of a boss (spouse, child, colleague, etc.)?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:
• Assumes that one had no responsibility in contributing to this situation
• Assumes that one is good and pure and it’s everybody else who is deficient

3. What dumb thing is he/she going to say next?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:
• Assumes that whatever the other person says is always dumb
• Assumes that he or she never has anything helpful to say

4. How can I’m prove that I’m right (and everyone else is wrong)?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:
• Assumes that being right is the “end all and be all”
• Assumes that ones own point of view is the only right one
• Assumes that only one person or point of view can be right and valid

5. Whose fault is it? What is everybody else’s responsibility for this problem?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:
• Assumes that what’s important is finding a person to blame rather than focusing on resolving whatever the problem is
• Assumes that it was only others who contributed to the problem, not oneself

What questions do you think are the wrong ones to ask?


Johanna said...

I think this author is on to something important when she suggests that it's a good idea to ask questions that open up opportunity and potential, rather than closing it down. I always admire people who ask "what's possible?" rather than "why won't this work."

John Kador said...

I especially resonate to wrong question number 4--how can I prove I'm right? It's a question that comes up in my BK book, Effective Apology. Readers ask, how can I apologize and still get to be right?

The answer, of course, is you can't. The very act of apologizing means relinquishing being right. Apology means giving up the struggle with history and the attempt to control the facts.

We grow when we consider the possibility that we may be wrong and give up the struggle to prove we're right.

sharon drew morgen said...

There is an additional form of question - the Facilitative Question - that actually teaches people how to make their own best decisions, and teach us how to line up our criteria and change.

Marilee's material is quite thought provoking and works with a different element of change - powerful.

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