The Essence of Questioning



“We run this company on questions, not answers.”

  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google (2001 – 2011)

Questioning is known to man since time immemorial. Even before we could utter our first word, we were curious about the environment we live in. As toddlers, we learned by asking questions. For every new thing we saw, we’d question with a ‘What’ and perhaps, for most statements our parents or elders would make, we’d question with a ‘Why’ or ‘How’?

Questioning is the simplest and most effective way of learning. Innovative thinkers never cease to ask questions since it is the best way to gain more profound insights. If Sir Issac Newton didn’t ask ‘Why did the apple fall from the tree’ would he have discovered ‘Gravity’ – one of the fundamental forces of nature? Well, that’s debatable! The point here is, simple but fundamental questions like this have led people to make significant breakthroughs.


Although it’s a powerful tool, we may still have the ‘questioning apprehension’ for various reasons


Fear of being judged

During our childhood days, our teachers or elders might have ignored or discouraged our curiosity. As we grew up, we realized not everybody was comfortable having open discussions on various topics; we might’ve received some negative feedback or comments for having started one. This could’ve led to an inability to question when we should’ve, but didn’t.

Too lazy to ask

Laziness can stem from a poor attitude. Sometimes we assume we know it all and do not bother to ask or seek inputs. Without an ounce of doubt, we remain certain in our assumptions. In the process, we may miss out on essential information and later regret not having made that extra effort.

Running out of time

In today’s fast-paced world, we tend to seek quick results. While we’re at it, we don’t seem to realize how this very nature of rushing can lead to wrong actions. We are scared to pause, think and question because we feel it might slow us down and make us less productive.

Questioning and Listening go hand in hand

To get the best out of questioning, we must learn to listen. Often, we see people in conversations where there is more talking and less listening. The less one listens, the less one learns. It happens when we want others to understand our thoughts, without bothering much about what they’ve got to say. Eventually, this results in a discussion of what we already know with no learning.

However, with effective means of questioning and listening, we can learn and explore new perspectives, and enrich our knowledge and opinions.


Questioning can stimulate, inform and inspire. When coupled with a good body language, it can motivate the other person to express what they think, what their assumptions are and why they do things as they do. Thus, it keeps you in a learning mode and may also help find better solutions.

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