To think means to ask questions. The form of questions that we ask matter because well-formulated questions can lead us to the answers we are searching for. The practice of asking questions, especially better questions, is becoming rare these days as people are more favoring answers than questions. We all want answers but we seem to forget that the only way to get better answers is by asking better questions. To understand what makes good questions, Tim Ferriss, the best-selling author, the host of podcast Tim Ferriss show, a modern day of Stoic philosopher, offers some practical tools on guiding us to be better at asking better questions.
These are some of the main points of the video:
1. Ask questions that can be answered quickly and concretely
“Can it be answered relatively quickly? For instance, if you found someone you idolize in an elevator, Jimmy Fallon, if you asked Jimmy a question, could he come up with a really concrete answer in 5 second or less. If the answer is no, find a different question, for you or for other people. What is your favorite book for instance, not a good question, because people have read hundreds or thousands of books in many cases. But what book or books have you gifted the most to other people? It’s gonna be a short list. The search query is really refined. It’s fast click.
Much like asking yourself: what makes me happy? It’s not really a great question, too broad and takes too long to search. But let’s just say: what makes me feel most relieved after work when I get home?” […] Now it’s more refined and you can answer it much more quickly and is more actionable.
2. Don’t ask questions that can be answered on Google
“A few things you should not do, if you meet someone who is, say, above your weight class in terms of professional development and you want to connect with them, don’t ask them questions that you can answer on google.”
3. Avoid broad questions
“Don’t ask them really broad questions. They couldn’t conceivably answer quickly. What should I do? What advice would you give me for succeeding? These are not good terms. If you can’t define success, in say, 10 words or less, get rid of it, lose it from the question.”
At the end of the video, Ferriss, who has been asking hundreds of excellent questions on his podcast, says:
“And I would encourage you to strive to be interested in the form of good questions, if you seek to be perceived as interesting. Stop talking. Start thinking about questions. And then stop and listen.”