(The Next Level series of blogs are a preview from my new book, also titled the Next Level. It contains 10 ways for a person to improve in any skill or career by adapting and combining instructional methods)
Socratic Method is traditionally a tool used in formal law studies. It involves a series of questions that are used to explore a concept. In my own ignorance of this topic, I always just thought it meant asking questions and being super annoying. In further research of the topic, the classic Socratic method goes like this:
1. Ask a general question about a topic.
2. Receive answer.
3. Formulate second question that creates ambiguity or direct contradiction.
4. Subject is forced to engage in deeper thought and clarification on subject.
5. Higher level of thought and subject understanding is created.
In all honesty, if I had a friend that did this every time we went to a bar, I would probably punch them out after a few times. The relevance of this concept remains though. I felt it is a valuable methodology for improvement and self assessment. Too often, we set life goals based on a vague concept of the end result. Once we achieve that end result, we can be ambushed by the REAL results of that goal. I have used this on myself after a conversation with a friend that stated that my life "was out of equilibrium." He was completely right.
Here is how it would work:
Friend: Why are you getting a PhD?
Me: So I can write books and have credibility.
Friend: So you couldn't write books before? And you don't have life experience to establish credibility?
At this point, the second question creates a desire for me to learn about the many reasons people choose a doctoral program. Among them, increased earning potential, increased self esteem, the struggle of challenge, and a higher degree of research ability.
The third question would make me ponder the fact that MANY people have credibility without education, and they gain this from life experience, practice, recommendations from others, and professional reputation.
So in hindsight, my first answer wasn't wrong, just limited in scope.
Now imagine using Socratic Method in your life, to further yourself in your career, your life, and your goals. It really can help you if done correctly.