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"What Don't You Know"

I've heard Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, say that he wants Microsoft employees to be "learn-it-alls, not know-it-alls". The perfect embodiment of the growth mindset.

It made me think about the questions I ask people when I am working with or coaching them. I tend to ask questions that help me figure out what the person knows. I see many managers do the same thing. We ask "do you know how to do X?" Worse, "you know how to do X, right?"

I joke with managers that employees will often say "yes" when the correct response would be "no". They don't want people to think they don't know.

I wonder what would happen if I changed the framing of the question. What if I started asking people "what don't you know?" It is an interesting reframing.

What I like about it is that I give the person permission to not know something. After all, we all have things we don't know. We need to make this OK to talk about.

The other benefit could be a way to avoid my biases. I can clearly understand what they want to know. Sometimes our biases make us think they want to know something, when their real question is something different.

I may try this for a while and see how people respond and if it is more productive.

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