Ask Yourself Simple Questions to Get to the Heart of the Matter
Written by Lisa Montanaro | November 16, 2012

Ever notice that when you are stressed out or overwhelmed, it is often difficult to wrap your brain around what really needs to be accomplished or what is really bothering you? Often, we over analyze and complicate things to the point that we can’t recognize what our original “why” was in the first place. How do we guide ourselves back to being able to figure out what matters?

Ask simple questions to get to the heart of the matter. Reframing our questions can produce quicker and more meaningful results. Asking simple questions of yourself avoids getting into the over-processing or over-analyzing that many of us tend to get caught up in. It is exhausting to over-think everything, and usually doesn’t accomplish much either.

Because the questions we ask have such a strong influence on the decisions we make, it’s an area that deserves some special attention. A business coaching client of mine recently commented that a simple question that I ask at the end of my accountability form that I send out before all of our coaching calls has had a profound effect on her ability to get to the heart of the matter. It has helped her focus on what she wants to share with me with regard to her progress in a way that would not be achieved if I had asked her a series of more in depth or complex questions.

The first thing you need to decide when looking for answers is what is your true objective. What do you actually want to know? If we don’t know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, things can get confusing really fast. So spend some time getting a clear idea of what your objective is before you go any further.

Start with stopping and asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What do I want right now?
  • What is really bothering me or stressing me out at this moment?
  • What one thing can I do or say that will help guide me to the answers that I seek right now?

Once you have asked these questions, listen for the answers. Being quiet and “still” enough to hear the answers is oh-so important, but we often skip that part! Ways to help you get to the answers could be by writing in a journal, having a conversation with a trusted friend, coach or advisor, or getting out of your environment for a short while, and going for a walk.

This may sound overly simplistic, but it works, trust me. I have seen it prove positive in my work with clients many, many times. Even in my days as a lawyer, I noticed that when I stopped and asked myself a simple question about a complicated case, it helped me get to the heart of the matter much quicker. When I got in my own way by muddying up the waters and overly complicating the questions themselves, it made getting to the answer a frustrating experience. Heck, as lawyers, we are trained to ask simple questions in court, and often, the opposing counsel “objects” when our questions are too long, complicated, compound, or Heaven forbid, leading.

So, ask yourself some simple questions next time you are struggling with something, and see what kind of magic it works to help guide you to the heart of the matter of what you are working on, dealing with, or seeking.

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.