Powerful Questions | Wealth of Mind

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03 Aug 2012

Powerful Questions

Written by RobynWoodham Category:

Using questions to create great outcomes

Have you ever considered the importance of questions which guide your behaviour?

Consider the following question, which could be used by a teacher:  “How intelligent is he?”  Contrast that question with this one:  “How is he intelligent?”  Notice the second question is a far better one.  It not only opens up the possibility of recognizing all kinds of strengths, but assumes that those strengths will be there, whereas the first question is measuring just one scale, in which the student may end up looking favourable, or in which they may measure up poorly, affecting the teacher’s attitude towards them, and therefore the performance of that student.

Questions such as these may underlie all manner of situations.  Somebody who feels uncomfortable in social situations may have an underlying question of “Will they like me?”  The problem with this question is that it has two possible answers, and statistically speaking, there’s a 50% chance of the answer being a negative one.  Powerful questions tend to be open questions, rather than Yes/No questions like this one, often beginning with ‘How’ or ‘In what way’.  Keeping that in mind, a much better question would be “In what way will I enjoy connecting with people tonight?”

Take one more example.  Imagine you’re in a leadership position, and one of the people you lead seems to make the same mistake again and again.  That may lead to a lot of frustration and a question like “Why aren’t they getting it?”  That question is limiting as it puts the responsibility and fault onto them.  A much better question could be “How can I be a better leader for this person?”, creating thoughtfulness, patience and a higher likelihood of a favourable outcome.

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