Why Should Your First Question Always be: “Can you please tell me more?”

Why Should Your First Question Always be: “Can you please tell me more?”

Have you heard this story:

Johnnie (age 7) comes running into the house, yelling to his mom, “Where did I come from?”  Johnnie’s mom had not been expecting this question–well at least not yet!   But after taking a deep breath and collecting her thoughts just a bit, she invites Johnnie into the living room where she shares all about  “The Birds and the Bees.”  Johnnie’s eyes are wide as saucers as he takes in every word.  When Johnnie’s mom is finished, she says, “Now Johnnie do you understand where your came from?”   Johnnie replies, “No! Joey said that he came from California and he asked me where I came from?”

So, do you understand now, Why your first question should always be:  “Can you please tell me more?”

Or am I the only person who has ever had his wife say, after I have quickly responded to what I thought was her question, “Why don’t you listen to me first, before you start trying to answer!  You don’t even know what I was asking!”?

Yes, more times than I care to admit, it can be said of me:  “Bob gives answers before he listens.”

Do you think Johnnie’s mom had wished she had responded to Johnnie’s question with: “Can you please tell me more?”

So here is my action point:   To make it my standard automatic response, whenever I am asked a question, to ask:  “Can you please tell me more?”

As a result of reading today’s post, what is your action point?

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What People Are Saying

Malcolm   |   17 May 2012   |   Reply

I’ve been ‘called on the carpet’. Thank you for pointing this passage out to me.


bdhulett   |   17 May 2012   |   Reply

To your question, “What do you think?” I must now ask, “Can you tell me more?” before I answer you! 🙂 Thanks friend. Good stuff.

I attended a conflict management seminar this week and they talked about the importance of well placed questions. I thought of you often.

leadingwithquestions   |   17 May 2012   |   Reply

Thanks Brent! Did they share any suggested “well placed” questions for use in conflict management?

bdhulett   |   17 May 2012   |   Reply

Bob, I think the best one that helped me as I deal with those dealing with conflict is, “How can we insure God gets the greatest amount of glory?” Other good ones are: “What scriptures have gone through your mind while dealing with this conflict?” “How is this conflict defining who you are?” “What questions do you wish you could ask God?”What do they say is the problem?” “What do you believe is the underlying factor?”

There were many others, but I recognized that I am so quick to give an answer that I fail to ask the question. Thanks for your reminder.

Tom   |   21 May 2012   |   Reply

I really enjoyed this post. I often use this approach to make sure I understand, or say “let me repeat what I heard and tell me if I have it correct”. I’ve been wrong enough to learn to keep asking.

Love the picture also.

leadingwithquestions   |   21 May 2012   |  

Tom–You are a wise man! Repeating until you are told, “You got it!” is proof of your wisdom!

Fernando   |   05 June 2012   |   Reply

I really appreciated the story of Johnny. I needed a good laugh today. I certainly agree with the premise of the blog on the value of asking the right questions at the right time. Working in sales for a high powered software company, we are trained to ask various types of questions and listen to our prospect’s responses and probe deeper based on what we hear. The question – answer – question sequence can get pretty scientific. The whole excercise is to understand and quantify the prospect’s real “pain” in order to get a sale. Reality is effective questioning and probing can get to real “pain” whether at work, in ministry or in our closest relationships. I look forward to reading more.

leadingwithquestions   |   06 June 2012   |   Reply

Thanks Fernando! What are some of your most used “Sales Questions?”

Fernando   |   06 June 2012   |  

We use Rackham’s “Spin Selling” to get to the heart of the matter. There are three types of questions in Spin Selling: problem, implication and impact (paraphrasing). Problem questions are high level “who, what where, why” to uncover potential problem areas or issues. Implication questions are deisgned to understand why the uncovered problem is bad. Never assume once you uncover a problem that you know why it is bad – or all the reasons that it could be bad – probe further. The third set of questions are impact questions. These are to quantify how bad is the problem. People may have problems but some aren’t so critical while others are devastating if they are not solved.

Elena de Moreno   |   06 June 2012   |   Reply

Thanks Bob, I really appreciated the history. I am learning a lot. It is wisdom to learn to ask.