Yesterday, a friend and mentor asked me a question. It was a simple question, really; it would have been easy enough to answer and forget about it. And yet…

And yet if I had simply answered and moved on, I would have missed an important message. You see, the key piece of information in this exchange wasn’t the answer sought by my friend. It was, instead, the question he asked: Does this feel ok to you?

I know my friend well enough to understand that if he posed the question to me, the situation hadn’t settled well with him. If this particular issue had been in my control, I would have known I either needed to explain it, defend it, or dig into it a little deeper–just because my friend asked the question.

So often we can learn just as much from the questions as we can from their answers. Why is someone asking? Whom is he asking? What is he asking? How is he asking? Does the question convey lack of understanding? Judgment? Has it been cleverly placed to make sure I know there’s an underlying issue at hand? Is the person asking it to make a point or to garner information?

I know I’m a word nerd, and I’ve already confessed that I put the anal in analytical. Still, there are questions and there are questions. Make sure you know the difference; you just might learn more than you think.

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