using surprise as a means to ask better questions

using surprise as a means to ask better questions

If you have worked with me for more than a few days, you know my two favorite questions to ask when I am trying to better understand a situation are:

“What surprised you about [x]?”
“What will surprise me about [y]?”

I love these questions because if they are answered well, the conversation is engaging, insightful, and educational. If approached well, the questions allow the answering individual to display a combination of empathy and EQ, as well as capability to handle what can be a non-linear progression.

And, while these questions are great to ask others, sometimes they are even more effective when performing your own self-review. If something notable happens and it catches you by surprise (or does not catch you off guard) there is a reason why… and you should reflect to see what drove your handling of the situation. It will help you in spades as you continue to progress personally and professionally.

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