Want Better Answers, Ask Better Questions
The value of a well-worded, well-timed question cannot be overstated. Therapists and teachers practicing the principles of choice theory know this as much as anyone. A blog at leadershipfreak.wordpress.com compressed some essential truths into a recent post when it comes to the art of effective questioning. There is so much choice theory in what follows –
We Ask Questions to Help Others:
+ Learn about themselves
+ Find their path forward
+ Create and fulfill their life plan
+ Give space and opportunity for people to learn about themselves
+ Inspire reflection on their journey so far
+ Make people feel important
+ Connect people together (Glasser referred to it as involvement; the Creation story noted that “It is not good for man to be alone”)
+ Promote learning
+ Identify the next steps
There Can Be a Darkside to Questions:
+ Making a person feel like they are being interrogated
+ Leading someone to your conclusions
+ When your agenda is more important than their discovery
The First Word of Better Questions
+ NOT Why. (Better to ask, ‘What’s important about that?’ than to ask ‘Why is that important?’)
Strengths More Important than Weaknesses:
+ How have you succeeded in other situations?
+ How might that relate to this situation?
+ How have you worked through challenges in the past?
+ What traits do you depend on when the going gets tough?
+ How do you think those who know you best would describe your strengths?
In a short amount of space the leadershipfreak reminds us of some very important leadership and influence factors. Check out the original posting here.
Two more important leadership principles to keep in mind are:
It is better to get it out of someone’s mouth than to put it into their ear.
You gain power when you give it away.
I am receiving word from several of you that it is impossible to purchase the book, Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators (2005). I assume this has something to do with the demise of the Review & Herald Publishing Association, and the transition to the Pacific Press Publishing Association. I talked with someone at Pacific Press yesterday, but have not heard back from them yet. I am not sure what Pacific Press has in mind for the future of Soul Shapers, but for what it is worth I am open to an updating of the book (including, as you might guess, a name change).
This last year I read two books on professional coaching. Helping people professionally is all about learning to ask quality questions. The last book I read about my classroom practice is titled, “Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding,” by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. It is a very practical guide for increasing student learning.
I would like to add a book to your two books, that being Art Costa’s Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools.
Good stuff. And like the idea of an updated or revised version (with name change). Think you’re onto something there..
I think these are great. Especially not asking “Why” because that would be one I could easily monitor in my self. The other is focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. This I think fits into my Christian values of loving people and encouraging them.
I didn’t initially mention it, but asking “why” also invites people to become defensive of whatever it is they are saying or however it is they are behaving.