Ask More | Frank Sesno

Summary of: Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change
By: Frank Sesno


Embark on an enlightening journey about the power of asking the right questions and discover the significance they hold across different facets of life. Frank Sesno’s book, ‘Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change’, sheds light on different types of questions from diagnostic, empathy, bridging, creative to confrontational and their effectiveness in various situations. Engage with real-life stories ranging from a health care professional in rural areas to professionals from top-notch organizations like Netflix, and delve into how asking the right questions can facilitate understanding, spark creativity and hidden potential, and help forge long-lasting connections.

The Art of Asking Diagnostic Questions

Asking the right questions is an essential skill that can lead to better problem-solving. This is especially true for professionals in diverse fields, including healthcare, journalism, plumbing, and electrical engineering. To diagnose an issue, it is necessary to ask open-ended questions that move from general to specific. Among other useful strategies is asking for the most damaging or negative information first, reviewing the relevant history, and asking for confirmation. Creative questions that demand imagination and challenges to the expert opinion are also necessary. The art of asking good questions is exemplified by Teresa Gardner, a nurse practitioner who serves rural communities in the Appalachian Mountains, where heart disease, diabetes, and pulmonary disease are rampant. Gardner connects well with her patients because she asks empathetic questions that hinge on genuine interest. By grasping the situation, she can offer practical health advice and prescriptions. In any profession, asking the right diagnostic questions increases the chances of solving problems and achieving better outcomes.

The Art of Bridging Questions

The use of bridging questions can facilitate communication with closed-off individuals. Barry Spodak, a leading expert in this type of questioning, utilizes techniques to help others open up. Spodak’s work involves training law enforcement officers to use bridging questions to shift suspects’ thinking from System Two (critical thinking) to System One (autopilot). This approach includes using micro-affirmations like questions without question marks and innocuous questions about shared experiences, such as asking about a painting on a suspect’s wall. By avoiding triggers and accusations and instead affirming and validating the person, a bridge to communication can be built. The principles behind bridging questions support a clear outcome: getting a closed person to open up.

Confrontational Questions for Accountability

Confrontational questions can challenge individuals in power to be accountable for their actions. In his book, the author discusses that to use confrontational questions effectively, one needs to have a specific goal, know their facts, ask precisely, care about what they are asking, and expect hostility. Legacy questions open the door for reflection and resolution. The power of technology has created a culture of quick answers, but it has also revealed endless horizons. Jorge Ramos, known as the “Hispanic Walter Cronkite,” didn’t shy away from using confrontational questions to challenge world leaders. Despite being thrown out of a news conference during Donald Trump’s campaign, Ramos persisted with his line of questioning. Growing up with a strict father, attending Catholic school, and challenging authority figures from a young age paved the way for Ramos to comfortably confront those in power.

The Power of Mission

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded Ben & Jerry’s with a sense of purpose and grew the company by aligning their values and mission. Their business success was based on encouraging their team members to work together and build connections with others.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were not quick starters in life, being the slowest and fattest kids in seventh-grade gym class. Nevertheless, they became best friends by high school. After considering a bagel business, they decided to focus on ice cream. They learned how to make ice cream from a $5 correspondence course and built their first store in Vermont in 1978.

Ben and Jerry built their company with a sense of purpose and values. They believed in the power of a mission to align the team and forge connections with others. By 1990, their business had grown, and they had a set of shared values acquired through employee surveys. They publicly promoted a variety of causes and ensured that their compensation plan reflected what they believed. For instance, one Ben and Jerry’s rule stated that bosses could not make more than five times the lowest employee salary.

Ben and Jerry built a successful business by encouraging their team members to work together and connect with others. By focusing on a shared purpose and values, they were able to build a solid foundation for their business, which thrives to this day.

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