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The Power of Critical Thinking in Your Business Relationships

Thinking about why things happen can help you grow

I’m fascinated by philosophy. Greek in its origin (Philosophia) means ‘love of wisdom,’ and to me, it has always denoted a proactive, rational thought process to answer fundamental questions. I believe understanding why things happen vs. simply what happened is an incredibly useful way to learn and grow from every experience. This notion is even more powerful when you think about your daily interactions with your business relationships. Why they think, say, or behave a certain way can give you clues into their aspirations and frustrations, what inspires them, what moves them to act, or triggers them to disengage.

Critical thinking and asking great questions will help you better understand why situations are the way they are, how best we should navigate our interactions, particularly in difficult or challenging times, how we can be certain about what we know, and what meaning, if any, there is to the relationship moving forward. Using reasoning to seek explanations becomes fuel for any collaborative effort.

Here is how critical thinking and asking insightful questions can specifically help you and your business relationships:

  1. Before jumping into an answer when asked a question, try following up with a few clarifying questions - way too many people I meet are eager to help and want to jump into a solution without fully understanding the need, the motivation, and the relevant context of the situation.

  2. When attempting to help solve challenges or opportunities, aim to get beyond motherhood and apple pie - beyond the obvious symptoms, critical thinking helps identify the root causes of challenges and what’s holding others back from reaching new opportunities. If you help your relationships think analytically to challenge their status quo (vs. simply defending it), you’ll be perceived as a greater value creator in their collaboration efforts.

  3. Earn the trust and the credibility, then work on elevating, enhancing, and amplifying it - way too many people work really hard to prove how smart they are. Few of your relationships care until you demonstrate a vested interest in their outcomes! Thoughtful questions demonstrate genuine care for their thoughts, concerns, and business outcomes. Critical thinking and asking relevant, insightful questions convey your credibility and will enhance your repute.

  4. Moderate their decision optionality - by helping your relationship think through, evaluate, and discern information critically, you can help them make more informed and (hopefully) data-driven, rational decisions. Critical thinking also helps assess risks, benefits, and various outcomes of available options, leading to a better decision-making process.

  5. Collaborate to make the process and the end result stronger - collaboration for the sake of collaboration is a waste of time. Ensure that you’re communicating with clarity and purpose, and leverage critical thinking to listen louder, paying close attention to what your relationships are NOT saying.

In summary, critical thinking and the ability to ask great questions can significantly enrich your business relationships. Slow down, be intentional, and be present in every interaction - put away the distractions and really make that person feel like they’re the only person important to you at that moment.

On a personal note, I’m committed to blogging more regularly. Hope you’ll subscribe at the bottom of our newly designed website. Thanks as always for your interest in our work, Nour

David Nour is the author of 12 books translated into eight languages, including best-sellers Relationship Economics®, Co-Create, and Curve Benders. He regularly speaks at corporate meetings, industry association conferences, and academic forums on the intentional, quantifiable, and strategic value of business relationships.
Learn more at NourGroup.com/About or DavidNour.com.

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