What’s Going On In Your Brain When Someone Says, “I Have a Question for You”?

Excerpted from Chapter 2 of “Now That’s a Great Question.”


Click HERE to listen to Chapter 2 “What’s Going On In Your Brain When Someone Says, “I Have a Question for You”?

Have you mastered the art of looking like you are paying attention when someone is speaking, when, in fact, your mind is a thousand miles away?

Without question, you have!

How about your staff? Your clients/customers? Your peers? Your supervisor?

You can bet they have as well!

I have no expertise to know or explain what exactly happens physiologically to your brain when you are asked a question. If you have that expertise, would you please share with me (in fact, with all of us)?

What I do know is that the instant someone says, “I have a question for you,” 100% of your attention/brain power goes to:

  • Listening/focusing on the question being asked. Do you understand the question? Do you need to ask a clarifying question to make sure you understand the question?
  • Your brain is also processing another question: Should you share an answer or would it be more appropriate to respond with a question to their question?
  • Your brain is sorting through all the data stored in it, in order to find the pertinent file(s) where potential answers lie.
  • Your brain then quickly rummages through the file(s) for potential answers.
  • Your brain is simultaneously analyzing the person who asked you the question. Is this a “safe” person? What are their motives? Do you need to be careful? What do they already know? What would be most helpful to them? Where might this be leading?
  • Your brain starts to formulate the answer that will soon come out of your mouth. What will you say first, second, third? What kind of contextual information might you want to include? Should you share a story? A past experience? A resource?
  • And now, as you begin to speak, your brain is simultaneously reading the face of the person who asked the question— do they look like they are understanding? Confused? Lost? Pleased? Angry? Your brain will adjust/edit/delete/add to your verbal answer accordingly.
  • When you have verbalized your last word your brain will continue to stay focused on the person who asked the question. What do they say next? Was your answer helpful to them? Are they going to ask you a clarifying question? Are they going to ask you to share more?

How long does all the above take? Sometimes only seconds! Hardly ever more than a couple of minutes.

During these moments, where has your brain focused 100% of its computing power? Has your brain spent any time thinking about last week? What your friend said to you this morning? What is on your “To Do” list? No!

So what’s my point? If you want to own/use 100% of the brainpower present with you in the room, what do you have to do?

You have to ask THEM questions!

My friend, Mark Goulston, shares that anytime we speak more than 40 seconds (yes 40 seconds) the minds/attention of those we are talking with begin to go elsewhere. How do we get them back?

You have just listened and/or read “Chapter 2” from “Now That’s a Great Question.”  You can request your free download of the entire Audiobook and/or eBook by clicking HERE 

Bob Tiede


Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 52 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 8 remarkable grandchildren.


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