• Shane Thomas

Cultivating a Better Understanding

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

Don’t ask questions simply for the answer, ask for what was considered to get to that answer.

Every day our lives are getting busier and we are constantly looking for the quickest route to get done what we need to accomplish. In doing this we end up on a sort of autopilot, with a primary focus on a beeline between our questions and answers. We look at the answer as a means to an end. It’s not hard to understand why. And it would be easy for me to sit here and preach about cultivating a curious mindset. While I am a big proponent of developing a curious mindset, today I want to simply emphasize the importance of one basic step that will help us get better every time we are looking for an answer from someone.Our default when looking for information goes to this basic approach:

Step 1 - Ask a question

Step 2 – Get answer

Step 3 - Take answer and put into action.

Step 4 – Repeat as required.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, especially if we are asking it to people who may be experts or that we trust. After all, asking questions in general is a positive step that not everyone takes. But, can we improve upon this approach?

What gets overlooked is the follow up questions that can entail many variations of the below:

What were the 2-3 things you considered or took into account when coming to that answer? If ‘x’ were to change, would that influence your answer? What makes those considerations relevant?

...and many more variations of these.

Follow up questions are useful tools to empower us with an enhanced understanding of thought processes and “why’s” behind the answer. Of note, the questions should be asked in a genuine way, not in a way to put the person on a defensive edge. It can be intimidating or feel uncomfortable to do at first, but the discomfort will be worth it in the end and becomes easier and more automatic the more often we engage in asking these questions.  This progression of our understanding will allow us to make better decisions and identify the real experts in the future, or become experts ourselves. Consider that this extra time to ask the questions today will make you more efficient and effective in the future, especially if done consistently.

Within the Ag industry there is huge demand for experts in all areas of the business and every day we are having more of the baby boomers retiring who are chock full of wisdom and information that can help farmers and the industry as a whole progress forward. As young  individuals in the industry approaching questions with this type of inquisitiveness will allow us to acquire many pieces of information that we can’t accrue from a text book (same with more experienced individuals!).To top this off as farmers and ag industry professionals who have many different opinions flying at us on a daily basis it can be difficult to identify with consistency who is giving you the best information vs. who is giving you a regurgitated piece of marketing material. Using follow up questions will help better identify resources for the business or operation.

Asking to understand the considerations behind an answer today will make all of us that much more effective tomorrow.

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