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Choose Curiosity and the Power of Questions

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

“Questions bring into light the knowledge, insight, and wisdom shadowed by assumptions. Questions enlighten, assumptions darken the room." – Berna Merih

Assumptions are ideas accepted as true or certain to happen without proof. The human mind tends to like shortcuts to thinking and decision-making processes.

Abraham Maslow once said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

How Do You Know? 🤔

💡 We tend to approach problems or topics from a point of view where our experience fills some gaps for us. It is a shortcut when it is considered too much work to stay curious, ask questions, and double-check the validity of the idea before it is used in decision-making. It is easy to make assumptions. It is a dangerous road to follow if making assumptions is a frequent habit.

These unchecked interpretations of truth, the assumptions, can lead to adverse consequences:

🛑 Blocks curiosity

🛑 Hinders communication

🛑 Limits creativity and design thinking

🛑 Weakens reliability and trust

Especially in the workplace, it is important to build up credibility. Staying curious and asking questions is the only way to make sound decisions. How confident are you in what you say when an important decision is to be made?

Notice when you tend to “fill in the blanks” with assumptions; forget about your hammer!

Notice the sense of urgency. Do you need to respond that quickly?

Take time and convert your response into curiosity. What if everything is not a nail?

Compare the cost of assuming versus the prize of an evidence-based approach

👍 Ask yourself the big question: “How do I know this?” If you don’t, a good leader will always ask and make you know!

🎯 So, you may ask: “Berna, how do you know this?” I know because I learned by experience. I was working with a CFO in my junior years who always asked good questions. She continuously challenged any input to move forward. She made me realize when I made assumptions, and I learned to ask questions more to stay assumption-free.

How do you respond to colleagues or team members when they make assumptions?

Which leadership skills are further needed for effective decision making?

Please comment here or share your experiences.

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