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By Warren Berger

I am a questionologist.

You may be asking yourself: Is that really a thing?

I asked myself that question about ten years ago. Then I did some research and found that while there are hundreds of different types of “ologists,” specializing in all kinds of arcane subjects, there is no recognized field of study dedicated to the art and science of asking questions.

Of course, this led me to wonder, Why not? And then I asked myself, What if I just declared myself a questionologist? I proceeded to do so, in an article I wrote for the New York Times. And to my surprise, no one questioned it.

I have been using that term ever since. My deep dive into questioning has resulted in three books on the subject, and I’ve taught questioning workshops for the U.S. Army, the NASA space program, Starbucks, Disney, and Westchester-based Pepsico. Perhaps the greatest interest in my work has come from schools around the country including elementary and high schools here in Westchester County. Whether I’m talking to teachers, army officers, or business titans, they all seem to want to know the same thing: How can I get better at asking questions? And how can I encourage that behavior among the people around me?

It might be surprising that there would be this level of interest in questioning. After all, asking questions seems pretty basic — any child can do it. And we tend to think of questions as being a lot less important than answers, which are what the world really needs, right?

“Asking questions is one of the best ways to build rapport and trust with people.”

Well, answers are important, of course. But the truth is, we often can’t get to those helpful answers unless we start by asking the right questions. In researching my books, I studied many breakthrough ideas, creations, and inventions — all of them brilliant “answers,” you might say — and I found that these breakthroughs often began with someone asking a question such as, Why does this problem exist? How might we solve it? What if we tried ___?

In addition to helping us solve problems and come up with new ideas, asking questions is essential to …

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