I learned something from someone much smarter than me. And I’ve been using it for several years now.
It’s made such an impact, I’ve started to think of it as a secret weapon.
Here it is: when someone claims or appears to be a domain expert, ask them a lot of questions. Even if you think (perhaps rightly) that you know more then them, suppose you don’t and still ask the questions.
The cost is that many won’t get it. A good number of people will think you are a novice because you ask questions.
But that’s okay. Because the benefit far outweighs that.
Here’s why. Seven whys, in fact:
1) When you ask, you almost always will learn something you didn’t know. And that’s a win right away.
2) When you ask in a way seeking to learn, the other person lets their guard down. And this allows you to better see their motives.
3) When you ask, you help someone else step into the spotlight. That gives them confidence or encouragement, but it also engenders goodwill back to you.
4) When you ask, the pressure is off of you. You don’t need to stake a claim or make statements, you just need to listen. And that’s a lot easier.
5) When you ask, you get feedback as to where you really are on the topic (behind, keeping pace, or ahead?).
6) When you ask, you make more friends. Know-it-alls are unattractive. But inquirers are genuinely more interesting to others (because they are interested in others).
7) When you ask, you develop empathy by hearing another’s point of view.