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The Four Tendencies – Questioners in Business

Questioners in Business | Melanie J White

Questioners in Business | Melanie J White

Before you read this post about Questioners in business – if haven’t yet heard of the Four Tendencies, I suggest you check out this quiz and Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies.

I love the Four Tendencies because I am curious about people, behaviour, and how different tendencies operate in different situations.

Recently, I’ve seen some interesting scenarios unfold with different tendencies in business, and that has prompted to write a series of articles – starting with Questioners in Business.

This blog outlines what makes questioners tick, and how they can get the best out of this tendency when running their business.

The Questioner

Let’s start with an overview of the type.

Gretchen defines a questioner as someone who:

questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense. They may choose to follow rules, or not, according to their judgment.”

In a nutshell, this is the person that always asks WHY. And then they want more information, so they as WHY again.

The questioner drills deeper and deeper into the why – how things work, why things work, and whether things are worthwhile.

In fact, the last point is the most important.

Questioners are internally-motivated, so they will only do, purchase or engage in something that seems justifiable, logical and reasonable to them.

They often operate from a value-based, integrity-based position, and value quality and high standards.

They are (usually) highly accountable to themselves and others.

They feel that in business, being transparent is a sign of honesty.

Does this sound like you, or someone you know?

The Questioners’ downfall is that they may question things so much – including themselves – that they get into analysis paralysis.

Questioners in Business

Efficient Systems Management

My opinion is that questioners may be the most successful of all types in the mechanics of running a business.

The questioner is someone who asks why they need each element of their business, resulting in ONLY practical, reasonable and effective policies, procedures and systems.

This means that daily operation of a business is quick, easy, simple and practical, with no time wasted on frivolous or useless things.

But things may not go smoothly for all Questioners.


Here’s a Questioner who gets bogged down in analysis paralysis, and it prevents her from growing her business:

Sue is sure that her business will be amazing once she has everything perfect.

She wants to set up some useful systems, but not being very tech-savvy, Sue questions every decision she makes.

That’s a long, laborious process.

So rather than move ahead in business, Sue often gets stuck in a quagmire of questions about software, whether to make videos or write blogs, which Facebook groups to be in.

She also gets side-tracked when writing and researching blogs, taking days to look up all sorts of references before finally condensing her blog into 6 pages of deep explanation.

Sue makes elaborate plans that are too overwhelming and detailed to action.

She struggles to write short, punchy marketing copy.

However, she’s very good at understanding her ideal client, because of her probing, curious and inquisitive nature.

She also understands that running a business can be multifaceted and complex.

With a little bit of help, Sue could move forward in leaps and bounds.

In this case, Sue could make big improvements by:

  • working on her perfectionist streak
  • developing a clear business plan with single, specific targets and due dates
  • deciding whether to do some training or to outsource certain tasks in her business, and
  • getting a business mentor or coach to keep her focused, on track and to help her make decisions.

Questioner Bosses

In many ways, Questioners make great leaders because they aren’t afraid to take risks and make tough decisions.

While can be great with business management and systems, they might struggle in their dealings with staff and/or clients.

Questioners are people who value integrity, quality, and are generally direct and fair.

They tend to get on best with customers or staff who value a “no-BS” approach with clear, non-negotiable boundaries.

However, staff members or clients who lacks self-confidence and/or are Obligers might really struggle with their direct, probing nature.

In a coaching sense, a Questioner coach might overwhelm and confront their client with too many questions, or too much deep probing.

Jade had a nervous tummy at the thought of attending her weekly meeting with her Questioner boss.

His questions made her feel like she’d done something wrong, or like he was watching her every move to catch her making a mistake.

Jade often prepared for these meetings by imagining all the possible scenarios that might come up, so she would be able to answer all those questions about her work.

In a nutshell, certain types of people might feel personally challenged by all those questions.

But really, those questions aren’t about them – it’s simply the Questioner seeking clarity, truth, continuous improvement, practicality and efficiency.

Questioner Clients

It’s not about you

As above, being questioned can be confronting or threatening for some business owners.

A Questioner customer who keeps asking ‘but why’ is simply attempting to understand something, or decide whether they should buy it, or understand something that isn’t working.

If you’re a sensitive business owner, or if you lack self-confidence, you might feel that your integrity or authority is being challenged by all those questions.

Sam was busy fixing Peter’s car and had put lots of effort into getting things just right.

So he felt pretty confronted when Peter started asking why he had done things a certain way, and why he had put certain parts in.

Same felt like he was being made to justify everything he’d done, and that Peter didn’t trust him.

To top it all off, Peter got upset when he found out that Sam hadn’t rotated the tyres.

Sam had felt it wasn’t necessary and wanted to save Peter some money, so he didn’t do it.

In the end,  Peter was irritated because he felt he was being fobbed off, and treated like an idiot.

In this case, Sam could have diverted a bunch of angst by calling Peter to talk about the need for tyre rotation or not, and to simply and patiently answer Sam’s questions.

Luckily, most of the time, all those Questions are NOT about you.

It’s simply the Questioner trying to satisfy their own curiosity about something!

You can simply relax and let the person know you will do all you can to help them and/or understand their queries.

That sort of approach will build far better relationships with Questioner customers, than becoming reactive and defensive.

Or, you can simply make a decision not to have a Questioner as a client.


Do YOU have Questions?

Got questions about tendencies in business?

Get in touch and find out how you can optimise the way you work and get the most out of your tendency.