Five Wrong Questions to Ask

By Marilee G Adams in Beliefs on June 7th, 2009 / No Comments

Marilee Adams’ second edition of her bestselling work explores further the concept of questions and knowing the right questions to ask at the right times. However, Some of the questions we all ask prove to be more detrimental than helpful.

Consider these five questions that you should avoid asking yourself at all times, even though they may still seem natural and familiar. All of these questions have built-in assumptions that can prevent the question asker from being successful or satisfied.

As you go through your day, listen to the questions you’re asking yourself and then wonder whether the inherent assumptions serve you. Sometimes you’ll find that you can be more successful and satisfied by changing your questions.

1. Why can’t I ever get anything right?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:

  • Assumes that one is, was, and always will be incompetent and unsuccessful
  • Assumes that there is nothing one can do about this “truth”

2. How did I get stuck with this idiot of a boss (spouse, child, colleague, etc.)?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:

  • Assumes that one had no responsibility in contributing to this situation
  • Assumes that one is good and pure and it’s everybody else who is deficient

3. What dumb thing is he/she going to say next?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:

  • Assumes that whatever the other person says is always dumb
  • Assumes that he or she never has anything helpful to say

4. How can I’m prove that I’m right (and everyone else is wrong)?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:

  • Assumes that being right is the “end all and be all”
  • Assumes that ones own point of view is the only right one
  • Assumes that only one person or point of view can be right and valid

5. Whose fault is it? What is everybody else’s responsibility for this problem?
This is a bad question to ask yourself because it:

  • Assumes that what’s important is finding a person to blame rather than focusing on resolving whatever the problem is
  • Assumes that it was only others who contributed to the problem, not oneself

What questions do you think are the wrong ones to ask?

About the author:
Marilee Adams is President and Chief Question Officer of the Inquiry Institute, as well as the best-selling author of Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. She is a corporate consultant, executive coach, coach educator, and professional speaker.

Her clients include Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Wachovia, NASA Goddard, and the Brookings Institution. She has presented to professional associations such as the American Society for Training and Development, the Organizational Development Network, the International Coaching Federation, and the Society for Human Resource Development.

Marilee is also the author of The Art of the Question: A Guide to Short-Term Question-Centered Therapy, a book chapter on Appreciative Inquiry and QuestionThinking, a book chapter on Action Learning and QuestionThinking, and articles on question expertise for coaching as well as for organizational excellence. The Inquiry Institute offers free teleconferences, teleseminars, workshops, webinars, and the Q-Storming™ Facilitator Certification Program.

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