Sir Francis Bacon once said, “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Many people focus on trying to find answers and solutions to problems, but they often forget just how valuable good questions are. Questions provide unique frameworks for thinking, which can open up doors to unexpected revelations. Whether it’s in your personal life, education, or work, here are ten reasons why questioning is important:
#1. Asking questions makes you more likable
Most of us worry about other people liking us. For some, it can be a source of serious anxiety and make even everyday conversations stressful. If you aren’t sure what to do when making small talk, ask questions. According to a 2017 study, people who ask questions make a better first impression than those who don’t. When questioning is paired with good listening and responsiveness, a person’s likability increases.
#2. Asking questions encourages intimacy
Besides making you more likable, asking questions builds intimacy between you and others. In relationships where questioning is valued and welcomed, there’s better communication. A person isn’t worried that a respectful question might trigger a fight. Questions can also be used to learn more about the other person. This leads to better intimacy whether the relationship is romantic or not.
#3. Questioning strengthens the learning process
Children learn by asking questions. When this trait is encouraged, it sets up good habits for learning in school and beyond. How? When a teacher supports questioning in the classroom, it fosters a stronger sense of participation. The student is taking a more active role in the learning process; it isn’t just a one-way street where a teacher talks and never engages with the students. Students will learn more and remember that asking good questions results in better learning.
#4. Asking questions is the mark of good leadership
Contrary to what you might think, the best leaders aren’t the ones who think they have all the answers. Leaders who think they know it all are more limited and resistant to innovation. Good leaders, however, are curious. They’re always asking questions and chasing down new and interesting ideas. They’re aware of the gaps in their knowledge and aren’t self-conscious about using questions to learn more.
#5. Questions are essential to the scientific method
The scientific method is a process of collecting data, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions. It’s used in medicine, chemistry, and other fields. Throughout the process, researchers ask questions about what kind of data they’re finding, what the data might mean, and the methodology. Questions beginning with “how,” “what,” and “why” are very common. Taking the time to consider questions ensures the scientific method is as complete as possible. This is essential because science often involves high stakes, like developing a cure for a disease.
#6. Questions encourage critical thinking
The scientific method is an example of critical thinking in practice, but questioning encourages critical thinking in any area. When you don’t ask questions, you’re not fully engaging with whatever is in front of you. You’re stopping in the shallows. Questioning is like trawling with a net. You reach deeper to form an opinion and find evidence in support or opposition to it. You’ll gain more whether you’re studying a textbook, trying to solve a problem, or examining your biases about something.
#7. Questioning broadens your mind
If you lived your life without ever asking questions, your world would be very small. Asking questions – whether it’s about yourself, about others, or how things are done in the world – gets you thinking about new possibilities. It opens your mind to other perspectives. That’s an important part of personal growth.
#8. Asking questions can increase happiness
It’s easy to get distracted and feel lost in life. Asking existential questions like “What’s my purpose?” can help a person refocus and figure out what makes them happy. Using questions, they’ll identify areas in their life they want to change and ones that are fine the way they are. Without questioning, a person’s life is unlikely to improve and they’ll suffer from unhappiness.
#9. Questioning fuels innovation
The act of questioning challenges the status quo. Digging into why things are the way they are and how they can be different paves the way for creativity and innovation. If nobody asked questions about how things were done, everything would stay the same. It would be business as usual and nothing unique or interesting would come into existence.
#10. Questioning can encourage positive change
In the same way that questioning can bring about innovation, it can also encourage positive change. When there’s a problem in society, the first step is to ask questions like, “How did this happen? How can we make it better?” Good activists and policymakers are experts at using questions to collect information and develop strategies for change.