The Power of Child-Like Questions

January 25, 2023   

Children are renowned for their curiosity and the simplicity with which they ask questions to learn about the world around them. They are naturally inclined to ask direct and egoless questions, without worrying about how they will be perceived or judged by others. In contrast, as adults, we often ask questions with long preambles, caveats, and agendas, which leads to narrow and less useful questions.

The difference between child questions and adult questions is not due to age but rather the conditioning we receive as we grow older. As adults, we are conditioned to avoid looking foolish, so we try to hide our lack of knowledge by framing our questions in a convoluted and overly complicated way. This behavior reinforces bad questioning habits, making it difficult to generate new knowledge.

However, conversations where simpler questions are asked can lead to more enjoyable and interesting conversations, and even new ideas. In many cases, the simplest questions can often be the most profound.

Physicians and residents would have better conversations if they dropped the pretense of needing to look smart and asked child-like questions instead. When doctors ask patients questions, they often use medical jargon or complex terminology, which can be intimidating and confusing for the patient. But if physicians asked simple and direct questions, it could lead to better communication and ultimately, better care.

To improve our questioning skills, it is important to stop and figure out what we actually want to know, and then ask specific questions in one simple sentence. This strategy can help us have better conversations and learn more things. By being clear and direct in our questioning, we can avoid confusion and misunderstandings, and instead generate new insights and ideas.

In conclusion, the ability to ask good questions is essential to learning, growth, and innovation. By unlearning our conditioning to ask overly complicated and narrow questions, and instead adopting a child-like curiosity, we can create more enjoyable and meaningful conversations, and ultimately, develop a deeper understanding of the world around us.

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