Little kids ask a lot of questions in a single day. By the time we become adults, we ask very few questions. Most of the reason for that is that we have been taught that answers get us A’s. Answers prove we are smart. Answers make us feel certainty, and certainty builds confidence. There is no issue with any of those facts as long as there is balance. If you are primarily an explainer, then you find yourself focused primarily on telling. Telling the story. Telling the answer. Knowing and sharing information. Often that is the best strategy.
But being an explorer is equally as important. Explorers ask good questions. Explorers focus on understanding first. Explorers are sincerely interested in what others have to say. Explorers are open and reflective. Being either an explorer or an explainer all of the time is annoying. Balancing the two is critical to building credibility and understanding. Being balanced also helps you keep more friends. The idea of being both is hard for some people. It’s seems that creating an appropriate level of both is challenging. Here are some ways to that:
1. Ask some friends to give you an idea of which side of the equation you seem to be on. An Explorer (asking great questions and being sincerely interested) or an Explainer (telling the facts, teaching the concepts, building a story).
2. Begin developing the side you prefer less. If you are more of an Explainer than an Explorer, then ask questions. Pause before you jump in. Focus on understanding and clarity.
3. Whichever side you fall on most, learn to listen intentionally. Intentional listeners are totally focused on the other person instead of getting ahead or forming answers in advance.
4. Consider all perspectives. Be sensitive to how others receive what you are asking or sharing.
5. Ask questions that matter; not just questions for questions’ sake. Hyper-askers are annoying.
6. Practice and get feedback.