July 12, 2013

The Question Behind the Question

At the first staff meeting of 2013, our CEO, Chris Delucchi, handed out a book called QBQ: The Question Behind the Question, a quick read that takes on blame, victim-thinking, complaining and procrastination in work and life. In it, author John G. Miller aims to answer – appropriately – several questions:

  • “Why do we have to go through all this change?”
  • “When is someone going to train me?”
  • “Why can’t we find good people?”
  • “When will that department do its job right?”
  • “Who dropped the ball?”
  • “Why don’t they communicate better?”
  • “Who’s going to solve the problem?”


No, it wasn’t the company’s way of trying to tell us something. While the questions seem overtly negative, well, it’s because they are. Miller calls these “Incorrect Questions,” or “IQs.” These are often our first reactions to difficult or frustrating situations. And while we very rarely say them out loud, its not rare for these IQ’s to cross our minds throughout the day, whether at the office or otherwise, we’re all guilty of asking the inevitable, “Why me…?”

When in fact we all know (at least I hope we do!) that this way of thinking never yields the best results.

Miller goes on to explain that by recognizing these IQs, we always have a choice. We can discipline ourselves to look beyond those guttural reactions and ask better ones like:

  • “What can I do to adjust to all this change?”
  • “What can I do to seek better training?”
  • “How can I work with Joe Smith better?”
  • “What can I do to communicate better with that department to avoid mistakes?”
  • “How can we fix this situation?”
  • “How can I communicate with him/her better?”
  • “How can I solve the problem?”

 The questions themselves will lead us to better results.