Yes, there ARE bad questions. Notice I did not say “dumb” questions. What I mean is that there are definitely questions that do not help us very much.
I am finishing a delightful little book by John G. Miller called Flipping the Switch. It is a follow up book on his popular Question Behind the Question book, the central idea of which is that to get better results we need to ask more empowering questions.
For example in the workplace we might start taking more ownership by dumping questions like: “When is leadership going to get its act together?’ or “What is this company going to do with this morale problem?” Questions that actually might take us closer to a solution would be: “What can I do in leading from my seat?” or “What kind of impact is my behavior having on morale?”
In the area of cultures and communication we see lots of examples of bad questions as well. Perhaps you have heard (or asked it yourself) something along the lines of: “When are those guys in [insert your culture of concern here] going to get it?” What do you think? Does that get us anyplace productive or positive?
What are some good (dare I say smart) questions we might ask instead? How about: “What can I do differently to improve understanding?” or “What habits do I have that might contribute to poor communication?”
The point is that it is easy to get in a rat hole by asking questions that take away our ownership and power. The quality of the questions we ask will determine the quality of our response. And I believe that is true and useful anywhere.
Enjoy the Adventure!