There are a lot of articles and posts coming out now around questions and the art of posing them. Positive, challenging or as a negotiating tactic, questions are never a bad thing.
Our current North American culture has us seen as inefficient or slow if we don't immediately jump to a solution when faced with a problem or complaint. However, sometimes asking the right questions can drive to an excellent outcome faster than simply responding with ideas from the potentially narrow reference framework we may have in a given situation.
Here's a few questions that might help the next time someone approaches you with a problem:
"Do you need someone to listen so you can work this out or do you need me to solve this for you?"
"Why is this issue important?"
"Who else could help with this issue?"
"What would happen if we let this sit for an hour/day/month...?"
"What ideas do you have ...? And what other ideas? ...and what other ideas?..."
"What can I offer you that makes me the right resource for this problem?"
"Has anyone else ever dealt with this?"
Like many problems, the real issue is often cloaked in a litany of smaller issues that may not need to be resolved to create a good solution. Asking questions can help determine the heart of the matter and the role we are expected to play. Assumptions are only as good as the questions we ask to confirm them.