What’s more important: knowing all the answers or asking the right questions?
We live in a world where the value of questions is often underrated. As school children we are rewarded for knowing the right answers, not for asking the right questions. At a job interview, most people will worry about saying all the right things in response to what the interviewer asks. How many will dare to ask questions of their own?
And yet, the quality of the questions you ask, along with the degree of curiosity and interest you show, can say more about you than your best answer.
Don’t be misled by the old saying – “There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.” Like most pieces of popular wisdom, it is both true and false. Stupid questions are the ones you ask before reading the background material or without thinking first. And yes, it happens to the best of us.
We writers have to ask questions – it’s part of the job. We bubble with curiosity in meetings and during interviews, by email and whenever we talk to you. Clients, experts, colleagues – you are a vital source of the information we need to write that story, structure that presentation or focus the customer’s message.
You may feel we have an annoying tendency to always want to know more. Not just what you want to do but why you want to do it. Who you are speaking to and what you want them to remember. Rest assured: it is not for naught. The investment you make in providing thoughtful answers in your brief will pay dividends in the quality of the resulting work.
Writers spend most of their time thinking about what the reader wants to know. Some of my recurring questions:
• Who are you talking to?
• What is the message you want to convey?
• Why should they care?
And finally, here is the most important question of all, the one I try to ask my clients at every opportunity:
“What can I do for you?”
If you have the answer to that question, or would like to discuss it further, I’m all ears!
Shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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