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Clever Questions - What more can you tell me?

Watch any movie or read any book that contains the visit to a wise sage and they all do the same. Each wise sage when visited by the hero on their quest, does three things.

  • Pause

  • Reflects

  • Asks a question

Wise sages, gurus, yodas, oracles, whatever you want to call them, know that wisdom comes from not rushing, reflecting on knowledge and experience (for that is what wisdom is) and asking more questions to get a better understanding.

This month, we will be exploring 5 clever questions that anyone can ask to help them develop wisdom and find ways forward.

I don’t know everything

Without doubt, the fall of most leaders comes when they assume they have all the answers. You have heard the phrase, ‘pride comes before a fall’ and I have seen this many times. Leaders start by knowing they don’t know it all. They are the rookies and although some may choose to ‘fake it until you make it’, they know underneath that they need to tap into the wisdom in the room to make right decisions to be successful. But for some, their arrogance grows faster than their capability and they think they have all the answers. So, how can we avoid the fall of arrogance? It is by asking one simple question.

What more can you tell me?

Listen & learn

Imagine the scene. You are gathered with your team. There is a situation and it needs to improve. You have an idea to improve it, after all you are the leader. The temptation is to step in and tell everyone this is what we are doing, ‘bish, bash, bosh’. But do you have all the facts? Do you have a 360 degree perspective of it all? It is very rare that we do right at the start. So, assume that you don’t know everything about the situation and you don’t know every theory or solution to solve it. Ask the question

What more can you tell me?

What more can you tell me about what is happening?

What more can you tell me about your perspective of this?

What more can you tell me about the people involved?

What more can you tell me about times it is happening?

What more can you tell me about our expertise and our capacity?

What more can you tell me about your ideas to solve this?

We start with the question, we then listen. As we listen, we learn things. We learn about the situation to enable us to make a wiser decision. We learn ideas that can help solve it. We learn about our team and who contributes to solutions. We learn how to engage people in the journey, as the solution we come up with involves their ideas and therefore their ownership of it too.

Hone humility

The beauty of this question, ‘what more can you tell me?’ is that it hones our humility. By very nature, the question assumes the position of learner. It puts us in a position of respect towards the other. It says to them that I value your opinion alongside mine. I place myself as a peer. Humility is a key component in generating trust with others. They know that we have an opinion and that we have knowledge and experience and by asking them a question like this, we are not lording it over them. It also allows us to hear a perspective that allows us to find points of connection of their thinking with our thinking, thus building rapport.

Challenges the charlatan

The question, ‘what more can you tell me?’ can also be incredibly powerful in helping others understand that they don’t know it all too. Many people are quick to form opinions based on what a friend has told them or a brief read of a Twitter headline or article online. We can use our curiosity and the question, ‘what more can you tell me?’ to see how much they know that has formed that opinion. By asking them to share their thinking, it also enables us to then share what knowledge we have used to shape our view. With a bit of luck, both parties might learn something new.

The sooner that we all admit that we don’t know it all, the better we will all be. By acknowledging ‘I don’t know it all’ we begin the journey of wisdom. By asking the question, ‘what more can you tell me?’ we start it with learning and discovery.

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore what you don’t know then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now:


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