According to Harvard Business Review, asking probing questions should be met with the spirit of “accelerating progress, illuminating unconscious assumptions, and solving problems.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you peel the onion, you not only advance the work at hand but help your team reach a greater understanding.

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Reflect on how to find the cause and effect

Learning how to find the cause and effect when asking questions is fundamental in developing and honing your communication skills. Start by simply taking a moment to reflect.

Would you consider probing questions to be intrusive or thoughtful?

Exercises to help you find the cause and effect

Now, it's time to put your reflection into action. Finding opportunities to implement your communication skills can allow you to find the cause and effect.  

  • Ask your team “why” 5 times to determine the root cause of a particular issue. Keep track of the responses through a diagram until the cause is uncovered.
  • Use your peer’s response to ask the next question. For example, if they say, "I am a perfectionist." Follow-up with, "How does your perfectionism impact your work?”
  • Link current responses to things your peer said earlier in the conversation. Consider: "That’s what you meant by when you mentioned..." This communicates that you’re actively listening rather than just hearing.

Additional resources to help you find the cause and effect when asking questions

To Get To The Root Of A Hard Problem, Just Ask “Why” Five Times
In <em>The Lean Startup</em>, Eric Ries argues that returning to the question of why five times cuts to the quick of a problem.
In 2020, Resolve To Ask “Why?”
Back in the 1980s, a German theoretical psychologist named Dietrich Dörner conducted a fascinating series of experiments that showed the most successful decision makers asked “Why?”
Are You Solving the Right Problem?
Most firms aren’t, and that undermines their innovation efforts.

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