Having the right answers is important, but having the ability to ask the right questions, well that is invaluable. If you want to be a advance your career, find balance in life, get an employee to perform or simply helping your kids to become the best they can be learning how to ask powerful questions is right up there with the most vital skills you need to have. So, what is a powerful question? In short, it’s simply a question that promotes deeper thinking. Whether you’re trying to encourage better performance from yourself, or those around you, it’s a good idea to start practising the use of powerful questions in your everyday work life and personal relationships. Here are seven tips to help you develop this invaluable skill.
ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
Asking questions that are easily answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ don’t create any conversation and rarely yield any results. Rather opt for open-ended questions that invite reflection and start a discussion, as these are far more likely to help develop interesting insights. Questions that promote deeper thinking and accountability are also vital to promoting personal growth. Spend some time thinking about these questions in advance, to ensure that you get the most out of your question time.
GET BEHIND THE ASSUMPTIONS
Every decision is based on assumptions and if you don’t understand what these are, you could end up making a bad decision. Your logic may be sound, but if it’s based on faulty assumptions, your conclusions are bound to be wrong! That’s why it’s always important to dig deep, asking questions that reflect on what is being assumed about a situation or scenario before deciding. In a business situation, you might want to extend this question to your colleagues or employees too. Remember that it’s always important to get both (or all) sides of any story before drawing conclusions.
Keep the questions coming. Rather than commenting on every question you ask, try to follow-up your initial question with other questions that dig deeper or that relate back to their previous answers. This means that if or when you do offer some advice, it is likely to be far more informed and worthwhile. Remember to put your judgements aside and simply be curious to find out their thoughts and feelings, rather than putting your own spin on things.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Always remember to keep your questions, short, simple and straightforward. You don’t want people worrying about deciphering your question, when they should be spending the time thinking about their answers.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH SILENCE
In today’s world, it has become a natural reaction to feel uncomfortable with silence. But when asking powerful questions, it is this quiet time after the question has been asked that promotes deeper thinking that leads to real insights. When asking these questions, you’ll need to actively refrain from filling silence and rather embrace it as time to practise your listening skills. Don’t bother speaking any words of encouragement or rephrasing the question, simply look on with supportive eyes and wait for them to come up with their own answers.
HELP PEOPLE DISCOVER THEIR OWN INSIGHTS
The best leaders ask rather than tell. By asking the right questions you can encourage people to discover the answers for themselves, something which is far more impactful and memorable than simply being told the answer. By questioning people’s statements, they will be able to come to their own realisations, while encouraging them to get to the heart of the matter. In this way, you’re able to encourage people to find their own and perhaps unique solutions.
Not only does note-taking show the person you’re speaking with that you respect them, but it also allows you the opportunity to look back on the discussion and discover new questions that you haven’t yet thought about asking.
These are a few things that you can do to learn how to ask powerful questions. Would you like someone to practice on? Come and join our Facebook group TAC She Sisterhood, a community full of likeminded women on a journey to create a life and career they love. Come over and say hi!
Have a wonderful day.
HANNA GIRLING, wife, mother, business owner, coach, sport enthusiast and forever an optimist.