A GIS degree is technical and often attracts like-minded people. Schools do a great job of teaching those aspects of GIS including giving practical experience in GIS software applications like ESRI’s ArcGIS. However there are a lot of skills critical to a career in GIS that are not taught during the degree program, and that is what this blog series is designed to address.
If you have children at home around the ages of 3-4 or older, you probably remember the “Whys?” Why do I have to go to bed at 8? Why can’t I watch TV? Why do I have to eat lima beans (I’m sure I often asked that one)? That is our first introduction into asking questions. But, were you ever taught how to ask empowering questions? I doubt it. Parents often welcome questions initially, but after the 5th why or so, it gets old. So as children we often pick up the subliminal message that you should not ask too many questions. As we move to grade school and beyond, teachers are often concerned more about getting through a curriculum rather than helping children to ask effective questions. So by the time we enter adulthood and college, we are often conditioned to not ask questions, not even good questions.
I still remembering listening to Tony Robbin’s “Personal Power” audio program many years ago. One of the most impactful concepts he discusses in the program is the power of questions. It was my adult education on asking empowering questions. While you were earning your GIS degree, I’m sure some professors welcomed questions, while others considered them a nuisance. But were you ever taught how to ask effective questions? Questions that get to the heart of a client’s problem rather than just revealing the surface problem? I’ll bet not. In my college classes that contained projects, I was always given the problem. There was never a lecture on asking effective questions. Asking the right questions throughout your career will be one of the major determining factors in your success as a GIS professional. Here are some strategies for asking more effective questions.