Answering the Question Behind the Questions People Ask You

You’re familiar with the common scenario where someone half-jokingly asks for advice for a “friend.” Everyone knows the “friend” is actually the person asking the question. Well, that scenario happens in leadership all the time. I call it: the question behind the question. The question behind the question may be the more important question. Sometimes […]

You’re familiar with the common scenario where someone half-jokingly asks for advice for a “friend.” Everyone knows the “friend” is actually the person asking the question.

Well, that scenario happens in leadership all the time.

I call it: the question behind the question. The question behind the question may be the more important question.

Sometimes it’s just a simple question and nothing is hidden in it. But sometimes, whether because of fear, insecurity or intimidation, people are hesitant to share what’s really on their mind. They ask questions or make statements which are really innuendos of a bigger issue.

Let me give you a simple example.

Someone on your team asks, “Are we going to evaluate our response to the pandemic?” That’s a fair question. With all we’ve been doing, we should evaluate our effectiveness.

You could simply say “yes” or a “no” and the question is answered. But there’s likely a bigger question behind that question. Someone has some input or feedback, maybe even a critique, they want to share which prompted them to ask the question.

And that’s what you really want or need to know.

The fact that the “real” question doesn’t get asked may not be the leader’s fault, but good leaders look beyond what’s being verbalized. They attempt to discern the motive and intent of the question or statement someone makes.

Good leaders ask follow-up questions to make sure they understand the question being asked—and ultimately the concern being expressed.

When someone is asking a leader a question, that leader needs to consider if the question is the real question or if a disguised bigger question exists.

They need to ultimately get to the unspoken questions.

From Outreach Magazine  The Impact of Quiet Obedience

In fact, the health of the organization may depend on uncovering what is not being communicated. Next time someone asks you a question, consider whether there is a question behind the question.

It could make all the difference.

Read more from Ron Edmondson »

This article originally appeared on RonEdmondson.com and is reposted here by permission.