Title picture for post entitled why learning to ask specific questions can help you find the answers you've been looking for

How Learning To Ask Specific Questions Can Help You Find the Answers You’ve Been Looking for

Have you ever searched for an answer to a question and yet no matter how hard you have looked have not been able to find the answer? The majority of us have, but how many of us have considered that the probable reason for our inability to find the answers is because we are asking the wrong questions.

The questions we ask define the answers we get, meaning if we ask the wrong questions we will get the wrong answers. This seems blindingly obvious but despite that frequently due to not being specific enough with the questions we ask we unwittingly get the wrong answers without any clue that the answers we have got are wrong.

This can result in any amount of unfortunate consequences, for example imagine a person asking the question how do I lose weight, getting an answer which seems like the right answer but in fact is the wrong answer. What are the odds of the person who asked the question managing to lose any weight? Slim to none would be the answer. Meaning they will spend a lifetime trying to answer the question, will find lots of answers and yet none of them will be the answer that helps them actually lose the weight they want.

This is why learning how to be specific with the questions you ask is so important, because it is the only way to find answers meaning if you are a person who is constantly looking for answers but who never seemingly manages to find any this could be why. I should note at this point this is not a post about losing weight, it is a post about how to get the answers you are looking for, and the way I argue that you do that is learning to ask specific questions.

But how do you learn to be more specific with the questions that you ask, or rather how do you learn to ask the right questions? The simple answer is to learn how to remove all ambiguity from the questions that you ask, because in doing so you force yourself to define what it is you actually want to know. For example imagine a person asks the question “who is superior, men or women”, and gets lots of answers from lots of different people, would any of those answers actually answer the question that has been asked?

The simple answer is it would be impossible to know, namely because the question is far too ambiguous. To explain, who is superior in what way? If we are talking about who is superior at growing a child inside of them, then the answer would be women, on the other hand if we are talking about who is superior at growing sperm, then the answer would be men.

The fact is with the question as it is some may answer the question using these parameters, while others will answer using other parameters and the person asking the question will have no idea at all what parameters the people answering the question will be using.

That means that every single answer to the question is completely and entirely useless to the person asking it. And that’s not even considering the fact that the person asking the question has not even defined what it is that they themselves want answered, do they want to know who is better at growing babies inside of them, do they want to know who is better at growing sperm, what is it the person asking the question wants to know?

Perhaps what they want to know is who is physically superior, in which case they could ask, physically speaking who is superior, men or women? That sounds a better question, and many may think it a perfectly acceptable and fairly specific question, but it is not it is still far too ambiguous.

For example, are we talking who is physically superior on average, or are we talking about men and women as individuals, if we are talking about men and women as individuals then the question is impossible to answer namely because there are many men out there who are stronger than a lot of women but there are also many women out there who are stronger than a lot of men.

Assuming the person asking the question means who is superior on average, a better way phrase it would be along the lines of the following: on average who is the physically superior, men or women? Now we are getting somewhere, but we still are not being specific enough because note in the previous paragraph I made an assumption that the person by asking about physical superiority is relating to physical strength, but are they?

It is impossible for us to know because physical superiority can be defined in many different ways.  For example, when asking who is physically speaking superior are we talking in terms of absolute strength, robustness, pound for pound strength, by what parameters are we defining physical superiority? It is important that we know because it can be argued that men can take more of a beating but on the flipside it could be argued that the male body could not survive both carrying a baby and then pushing a baby out of them. So physically speaking under one parameter on average men could be argued to be the physically speaking superior but under another parameter it could be argued on average that women are physically speaking superior.

That means we still do not have a question that we can ask in which we can trust that the answer will actually be the answer we are looking for. That means we still need to go a step further and be more specific, and to do that we have to decide what it is we actually want to know.

This is so important when asking a question, what is it that you actually want to know? For example, perhaps what our person asking the question wants to know is who is better at bench press in which case he or she may ask something along the lines of the following: who on average is better at bench press, men or women? But if he or she did they would still not be being specific enough because yet again under what parameters? Pound for pound speaking? How are we defining what it means to be better?

Every person asked this question will define what it means to be better in a different way meaning the question is as worthless as the answers. The reason being the person asking the question has still not defined what it is that they want answered.

So to take things a step further still, perhaps what our person asking the question really wants to know is who is able to lift the most weight at bench press, in which case he or she may ask something along the lines of the following: who is able physically speaking on average to lift the most weight at bench press, men or women?

Now finally we have a very specific question which means finally we can start searching for the answer and trust that the answers we get will be accurate or at least will be an effort to answer the actual question being asked.

And more importantly now the person asking the question knows what it is that he or she wants to have answered because they have defined the question by being specific to the point where there is no ambiguity left. That means the person asking the question knows what it is they actually want to know.

This is so important and seems so blindingly obvious and yet is the reason why so many times when we look for answers no matter how hard we look we simply cannot find them. Not because the answers don’t exist but because we are asking the wrong questions namely because we haven’t spent enough time working out just what it is we actually want to know. For example, returning to the example from the beginning about losing weight, many people ask how can I lose weight, but this is not anywhere near a specific enough question for a person to ever find a useful answer.

The reason being, how much weight do they want to lose, when do they want to lose it by, do they want to keep the weight off or is this for a holiday? To answer the question how can I lose weight the answer to every one of these question and a lot more needs to be answered, but if a person simply looks to answer the question how can I lose weight the answers to any of those questions will simply elude them, and all they will get will be ideas for how to lose weight rather than for how to achieve their goal. This is why a better way to ask the question, assuming that all of the said questions have already been answered, would be: how can I lose two stone over the next year and keep that two stone off?

Now we have a question that can be answered, because it is specific and within it are the clear goals that the asker wishes to achieve. And because we have a question that can be answered the person asking it now has an actual chance of losing the weight they want to lose in the time parameters they want to lose it and have a chance of actually keeping it off in the future namely because they have asked how to do just that.

But if those goals had not been identified in the beginning and the person simply asked how can I lose weight then it would have been highly improbable that they would have lost the two stone in the timeframe wanted and in a way that would allow them to keep that weight off.

Being specific is the only way to get an accurate answer, and the more accurate an answer the more use it is in regards to helping you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. Another example, imagine a person asked the question: how can I write a novel? This question seems specific enough but it is not, nowhere near, a person who asked this question is not likely to ever achieve their goal because they have not identified it, or if they have they have not asked how to achieve it.

For example perhaps they want to write a novel and see it published by a professional publishing house, in which case they would need to ask: how can I learn to write a novel to a high enough standard for it to have a chance of being published by a professional publishing house?

Again by being specific with the question an accurate answer can be found, and an accurate answer means that the person asking it will actually have a chance of achieving their goal. And the best way to get an accurate answer is to ask a specific question.

This means that the most important question a person can ask, is what is the right question. And the right question is a question that is as specific as it can possibly be made, because the only way to get an accurate answer is to ask a specific question. Which means if you want answers, you need to start asking specific questions.

That’s all from me for today, stay safe!

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