The Power of Questions

Questions are powerful because they create change. Giving people facts and information is helpful, but questions create transformation, inspire innovation and result in true change.

Questions are powerful because they increase commitment and improve the outcome of any situation when you stop giving advice and start engaging the person’s brain.

Questions are powerful because they help focus thinking. When you get focused on thinking you can create breakthrough answers. For example, ask “how can I best help you think about this?” versus “why did this happen?”

Questions are powerful because they increase your success when you ask the right questions rather than focusing on the right answers. Questions open the mind to what’s possible, while answers close the mind. Neuroscience has shown us that the brain is capable of making complex connections which result in powerful ah-ha’s that lead to action. These ah-ha’s are triggered through questions.

Tips for improving your questions:

  • Spend time shaping the question. As Einstein said, If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
  • Pay attention to the assumptions – asking “when are you going to stop yelling at your team?” implies that someone is yelling.  Many times, the way a question is worded is more of a statement than a request for information or insight.  Do your questions hammer others with your assumptions or are you genuinely curious?
  • Ask open-ended questions to inspire action. That means the answer is more than yes, no or one word. You are not conducting an interrogation, or even an interview! Change comes from asking questions that cause the person to think. When you pose a question, the mind cannot help itself, it needs an answer! So ask the question and then pause to listen deeply for the answer.

Check out our Leadership Catalyst Question Cards, which are designed to improve your leadership by providing 51 questions for reference and a tangible reminder about the importance of asking questions.

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