How to Learn From Questions

Originally published:

One of the things I learned as an owner for a global business is to look for original source documents as well as observe and listen to the questions being asked…

Recently, I realized many more people than I thought do not know they can learn more about the person asking the questions than most realize — and as the image to this post emphasizes, a wise person can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can from a wise answer.

Hopefully, some of this information will help.

Of course, these principles are relevant to all areas of life, not just politics…

Questions Are Indicative of 2 Things

  • they open doors and opportunities that would otherwise be undiscovered
  • to a discerning viewer and listener, they disclose the intent and the heart of the who asks the question..

Questions Have Several Forms

  • Factual: soliciting reasonably simple, straight forward answers based on obvious facts or awareness
  • Convergent: answers to these types of questions are usually within a very finite range of acceptable accuracy
  • Divergent: allow students to explore different avenues and create many different variations and alternative answers or scenarios
  • Evaluative: usually require sophisticated levels of cognitive and/or emotional (affective) judgment
  • Combinations: blend any combination of the above
  • Open ended: questions to ponder and no answer is expected (not quite the same as evaluative as an answer here is not expected)

Questions Lead and Point the Listener

All can lead the person in the following manner, if they are vulnerable to their manipulation.

Some will lead the…

  • person responding to the expected answer
  • conversation away from the conversation and the real problem
  • conversation towards the correct focus and attitude

Others will point to certain events…

  • without examining the environment before and after the event, this is known as out of context
  • while examining the environment before and after the event, this is known as in context

The Politics of Questions and the Questions of Politics

It is the last two that are most important to learn (but you really should learn them all). The questions that direct either consciously (at any level) or not are used by politicians in every country who are prone to take events, occurrences, policies, nearly anything, out of context.

They make this convenient to their ends using the event as the means, which also means the end up exercising post hoc ergo propter hoc quite often (“after this, therefore because of this” is a logical fallacy — simple example, doesn’t the sun rise every morning because the rooster crows?).

The problem with this is the ends (their desired outcome) will become a product of the means (their manipulation, deception, lying, etc, etc, etc), resulting in an even more troublesome environment.

“The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.”
~ Aldous Huxley

They are definitely politicians to avoid and but watch carefully (least we end up with another Obama).

The last of the two avoids all this as it leaves the final judgement to the viewer as well as the person responding to questions — it is rare you will find politicians doing this but if you do, they are usually worth trusting, with verification.

To get beyond all this, you need to learn to listen to the conversation while also listening to the intent — this is something that takes some time to develop, but is is also something that you will learn to trust as you develop it correctly.

learning from questions

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