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How Asking the Right Questions Can Change Your Life

11 April 2023

thoughts, assumptions, and biases

Have you ever felt stuck in a situation, not knowing how to move forward?

Thought you didn’t know what you needed or wanted?

Found it challenging to communicate your needs and ideas effectively?

Have you ever felt that you are not living at your full potential?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to ask some incisive questions.

The challenge most of us face is that we have never been taught how to do this.

This lack of incisive questioning leaves us trapped in our thoughts, assumptions, and biases, limiting our ability to understand ourselves and complex issues.

The consequences of not asking the right questions impact our well-being, emotions, and relationships negatively. 

Emotionally, failing to ask incisive questions leads to frustration, helplessness, and confusion, increasing stress and anxiety.

Suppose we live our lives based on self-defeating assumptions. In that case, we will feel overwhelmed, insecure, or even resentful of others who seem to understand the situation better.

A failure to ask incisive questions impacts our sense of identity, self-worth, and self-knowledge.

We only know who we are once we start asking incisive questions.

When we fail to ask penetrating questions, we may miss opportunities to learn from others and better understand their perspectives.

This can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and a lack of empathy toward others, limiting our ability to collaborate effectively and resulting in damaged relationships and decreased productivity.

Limiting beliefs are at the root of most of our struggles.

It doesn’t have to be.

In this article, we look at what incisive questions look like and the various benefits of asking incisive questions, including the positive impact on psychological well-being, cognitive abilities, and overall mental state.

What Are Incisive Questions?

Asking incisive questions is an art very few master.

Incisive questions are not just any questions; they are powerful, thought-provoking questions that challenge our assumptions and limiting beliefs, spark creativity, and lead to new insights and ideas.

Moving away from statements to incisive questions, we uncover assumptions, beliefs, values, and emotions that may be hidden or taken for granted and develop new insights and perspectives.

Incisive questions are typically open-ended and do not have a single correct answer, which allows for a more expansive and creative exploration of a topic.

They can be used in various contexts, from personal growth and development to team building and organizational Strategy.

The questions help us move forward, make informed decisions, and ultimately achieve our goals.

On this page, you will find insights I’ve gained over the years that have allowed me to achieve a fulfilling and balanced life, insights I wish I had known in my twenties.


Here are some examples of incisive questions:

  • Education: “What is the purpose of education, and how can we best prepare students for the future?”
  • Leadership: “What kind of leader do I want to be, and how am I getting in my way of developing the skills and qualities needed to lead effectively?”
  • Personal Relationships: “What are my emotional triggers, and who would I be without these in my relationships?”
  • Innovation: “What assumptions limit our ability to innovate, and how can we challenge and overcome them?”
  • Ethics: “What ethical principles guide my decisions, and how can I ensure that my actions align with my values?”
  • Personal growth: “If I knew I am the only one with control, what would I do to live differently? ”
  • Team Building: “How can we create a thinking environment for our team?”
  • Organizational Strategy: “What unique strengths do we have as a company, and how can we leverage them to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace?”

These questions encourage deeper thinking and exploration of important issues in different areas of life. 

Through incisive questioning, we can gain new insights and perspectives, challenge assumptions, and ultimately make more informed decisions and take more purposeful action.

Mastering Incisive Questions

By asking incisive questions, you demonstrate a genuine interest in the other person’s thoughts and ideas, which can help build trust and connection.

Asking incisive questions leads to more productive and satisfying interactions, whether in personal or professional relationships.

Here are some steps to get started:

Develop a growth mindset

A growth mindset means being open to new ideas and perspectives and willing to learn and improve.

This mindset is essential for asking incisive questions because it requires a willingness to challenge assumptions and seek new information.

Practice deep listening

Being fully present and engaged in the conversation. Paying attention to the other person’s words, tone, and body language and avoiding distractions such as smartphones and other devices.

Deep listening lets you fully understand the other person’s perspective and ask more relevant and incisive questions.

Start with open-ended questions

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” response. They encourage the other person to share more information and can lead to deeper, more insightful conversations.

Examples of open-ended questions include “How do you feel about that?” or “Can you tell me more about your experience?”

The 7P framework

The 7P framework includes seven categories: Purpose, Perspective, Possibility, Probability, Practicality, Progress, and Passion.

You can better understand the situation by asking questions that fall into these categories and identifying new possibilities.

Reflect on your questions

After a conversation, take some time to reflect on the questions you asked.

Were they effective in eliciting new insights and perspectives? Could you have asked better questions?

Reflecting on your questions allows you to improve your skills and develop a deeper understanding of asking incisive questions.

These are just some starting points for asking incisive questions.

As you work on this skill, you will gain a deeper understanding of asking questions, leading to more productive and engaging conversations.

Incisive Questions and Worst-case Scenario

Asking incisive questions has positively impacted our cognitive abilities, psychological well-being, and mental state.

Better questions help us build relationships, develop critical thinking skills, and enhance mental well-being.

In other words, we learn and even learn to “love to learn.”

Unlike closed-ended questions, incisive questions improve our cognitive abilities, such as recall and transfer of information.

We develop critical thinking skills, curiosity, and a growth mindset when we ask incisive questions.

Encouraging a culture of asking incisive questions can promote personal growth, creating a thinking environment where individuals can feel safe to explore new ideas and perspectives.

It’s a never-ending process that requires ongoing effort and a willingness to learn from your experiences.

It is an investment that is well worth your time. As time passes, you’ll ask incisive questions more naturally and intuitively.

The result is greater adaptability, creativity, innovation, and personal growth.

Thus, you can avoid the negative consequences of not asking incisive questions and reap the benefits of a more productive, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

The next time you find yourself in a conversation, consider asking incisive questions to deepen your understanding and connection with others and to open new avenues of exploration and growth.

In doing so, you may discover new insights and ideas about yourself and the world around you.

In the worst-case scenario, asking incisive questions can help determine if you are in the right place or relationship.

I reminded myself that life never stops teaching as long as I dare to ask incisive questions.

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