Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Power up your questions

We all know that questions are a core tool of the coach. However novice coaches struggle with two aspects of questioning - firstly knowing which question to ask and secondly keeping their questions genuinely open  i.e. avoiding leading. Finding the 'right' question is an art in itself and something that only comes with practice and not a few mistakes along the way.

Not all questions are equal - different questions have different purposes and impacts. Really powerful questions feel like blows to the chest and just have you speechless while you try to collect an answer. Try on Peter Hawkins powerful question for size -- "What can you uniquely do that the world of tomorrow needs?". See what I mean.. a very powerful question and not one that is easily or glibly answered.

So here is a way of thinking about the power of questions:
  • Level 1 Non-questions - these are typically leading/closed questions or questions where the coach already knows the answer.  "Don't you think you should take that new job"  ... and the implied answer is of course "yes". These questions are really statements dressed up as questions
  • Level 2 Questions of Inquiry. These sorts of questions are asked from a place of genuine curiosity and are used to gather facts and feelings about the issue the coachee brings. "What sort of job are you interested in?" . These sorts of questions are of course vital for establishing the parameters of the coachees issue but doesn't usually move them forward
  • Level 3 Questions of Ignition. This is where the Peter Hawkins type question comes into play. These sorts of questions push the coachee to think broader/wider/differently and played right can be the key to unlocking a stuck situation. 
If you want to know more about 'Powerful Questions' try the following article

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