What's In A Question?
Arriving in Caemlyn, Mat splits from Thom in his haste to rid himself of Elayne's letter. This attempt fails spectacularly as Mat is forced away from the main gate to the palace at a gallop.
Fool, he thought, meaning the fat officer, then added another for himself. All I had to do was say her bloody name in the beginning. "Elayne, the Daughter-Heir of Andor, sends this letter to her mother, Queen Morgase." Light, who could have thought they'd think that way about Tar Valon. From what he remembered of his last visit, Aes Sedai and the White Tower had been close behind Queen Morgase in the Guards' affections. Burn her, Elayne could have told me. Reluctantly, he added, I could have asked questions, too.
Mat, The Dragon Reborn, p. 444
Mat's doing an excellent job of analyzing his failures; but it doesn't appear that he's learning anything from them. He's always been the leap first, look later type of character, and it lands him in a disaster here again. Had he made the association that innkeepers tend to hear the news and rumors of the city, Mat may have reconsidered Thom's offer to head to the inn first. Mat finds out all sorts of useful information during his talk with Thom and Basel Gill, the innkeeper of the Queen's Blessing.
Asking questions is the best way to uncover more information about a problem. Most people tend to have difficulty admitting they're having trouble with a situation; they'll often clam up and put on the "everything's fine, here, now" facade. Fear of failure, loss of the boss's confidence, demotions, etc are all running through their heads; so instead of asking for help, they'll keep slugging it out in the trenches hoping for success. As leaders, it's our job to know the warning signs for these situations and begin to step in. Asking questions provides a way to guide the individual or team through a problem without taking the control out of their hands. They're still empowered to develop their own solutions; some of the burden of failure is removed allowing them to start visualizing success once more.