Hey friend, Will and I have set the intention to get better at unpacking the ideas in our head to share them freely with you. We want to see more meaningful conversations in your world. More engagement in your meetings and gatherings. And more psychological safety across your organizations. Why? Well…
We are wired to connect. And we are trying to connect. On average, we spend about 10 hours per day “connected” through a screen. Sherry Turkle, researcher at MIT, reminds us that all these “sips” of online connection never actually add up to a “gulp” of human connection.
With the rise of infinite amounts of always-available information being just a click or tap away, answers have become cheap. Cheap answers have contributed to a National Curiosity Deficit—as we call it. Our research is finding that questions are becoming the new currency. One of our ongoing clients at a major university orientation program said it best:
Even student leaders are struggling with the question ‘what do we say?’ While waiting in line for food or walking between classes, ‘what do we say?’
Forget about “saying” and telling for a moment, what about asking? This National Curiosity Deficit fuels division and separation and prevents us from building trusting, healthy connections. With the sounding board of social media, it seems we speak more in declarative or exclamatory statements and less in questions. Let’s use our mental muscles to bend our exclamation points into questions marks. Right! I mean…right? We all carry around a lifetime of un-Googleable experience. Questions are like keys that unlock those otherwise hidden stories and insights.
Asking powerful questions opens a window into these experiences, commonalities, differences, and possible contributions or collaborations that we each carry in our minds. For example, think of a colleague that may be difficult to get along with. What might happen if you were to ask, “what brings you joy?” Or…”what is something big happening this week for you?”
If we let go of assumptions just for a moment, what might we learn from those around us? Could we create a “gulp” of connection simply by asking the question?
For a neat perspective on how to give people choice with your questions, check out this 58 second snippet from one of my keynotes a few weeks ago.