Great Questions Can Change Your Life

Last week, we wrote about Growing Your Wisdom built on the quote by Mark Twain: “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.”

At the end of that post, we promised that this week we would look at how to formulate questions that create meaningful conversations.

Over the course of our careers we’ve discovered, time and again, that identifying a great question can dramatically change your interaction.

We’ve talked about this when we described the framework of Benefits, Concerns, and Suggestions when asking for feedback.

When asking for feedback if you ask the question “so what do you think?” you likely get the response of silence or non-helpful opinions such as: “great”, “ok”, “not what we’d hoped.”

Yet if you ask, “what are the benefits of this proposal? what concerns do you have? what suggestions would you like us to consider going forward?”, peoples’ responses are more thoughtful, informative, and can help to shape and influence your upcoming decisions.

If you plan to practice listening fully and well, we’d encourage you to pair listening with asking questions that invite others to share their experience, expertise, and perspective with you in new and more engaging ways.

These are not simply practices for work – you can use these same tools to grow your wisdom and connection with you partner, children, parents, friends, and neighbors.

This week, we encourage you to try these three suggestions for creating great questions:
  1. Limit yes or no questions. They actually close down a conversation rather than opening and deepening it.
  2. Ask questions that invite others to reflect on their experiences, expertise or perspective. For example:
    • Can you tell me about a time when this approach worked well?
    • What was your favorite part of the conference?
    • What did you learn in school that surprised you?
  3. Once you’ve asked a question and the other person is sharing, you can deepen their sharing by saying “I’d love to hear more about that” or simply, “say more!”

Of course, if you say “say more” like a drill sergeant, that won’t work! However, “say more” said with curiosity and interest can really open up the conversation.

Let us know some of the questions you’ve found most helpful in your life and work. We’ll create a list to share with everyone in the Monday Morning Business Coaching Community!

Until next time,

~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you’d like support in creating engaging and thoughtful questions for your team,
contact us today about our Executive Coaching. We’d love to help.

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  • Linda Carpenter, Stephanie Smith

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
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