Let’s say you want to know something. You have to ask the right type of question to get the answer you want. Do you want strictly the facts? Do you want someone’s opinion? Do you want an answer that takes some thought?
You need to pay attention both to what type of question you are asking and what sort of answer you are providing when answering other people. When you ask questions from other people, you need to know what kind of answers you are getting.
- Questions of fact—Questions with one correct answer are questions of fact. For example: What is the speed limit on a particular street?
- Questions of reason—Questions with better or worse answers are questions of reason. For example: What time should I leave my house to get to work on time?
- Questions of opinion—Questions whose answers reflect a personal preference are questions of opinion. For example: What’s the best restaurant near work?
I talk in my book Get Er Done about fact and meaning. You want to be aware when you are observing something that you stay strictly with the facts. Any meaning you put to it is based on your own perceptions and might not be reality. When we did intelligence work, we stuck strictly to facts and let intel people worry about the meaning. You might wonder how they took the information and turned it in workable intelligence. They used reason…
Matters of reason
Matters of reason are often treated mistakenly as matters of opinion or even as matters of fact. While everyone has a right to his own opinion, there is a difference between asserting one’s viewpoint as truth and supporting an answer with legitimate reasons and evidence. Unlike opinions, not all reasoned answers are of equal value. Always make sure you have good sources for reasoned answers.
A well-reasoned answer requires experience, a well thought out process and cross checking of the answer, while opinions and facts do not. A poorly reasoned answer is one that results from simply guessing or from a sloppy process.
It is especially important to ask the right questions when problem solving. Finding successful answers to your problems often depends on how you ask the questions. When seeking information or facing a problem, ask yourself what kind of answer best suits the question. Which will provide the best solution to the problem?
- Do you need a factually correct answer?
- Do you need an expert opinion?
- Do you need a well-reasoned judgment?
You can only find the right answer if you ask the right question. Keep in mind the three types of questions and answers—fact, reason, opinion—to help you get er done .