“What was the key takeaway from the specific situation?”
—U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs: 100 Sample Interview Questions
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Of all the tools in a coach’s toolbox, none gets used more often than powerful questions. Open-ended question — those that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how — are very handy in establishing and deepening relationships for the rest of us as well.
Today’s quote is commonly used by seasoned interviewers when evaluating candidates for various job opportunities. This question seeks to determine the applicant’s openness and receptivity to various inputs and types of feedback from significant experiences and events in their past.
How can and will you use today’s question to squeeze more teachable moments out of your communities? Please be sure to ask and answer the question yourself, to act as your own coach.
“Be grateful for people’s complaints. Turn a complaint into a question.”
Image from Unslpash by Analia Baggiano
We all complain from time to time. I’m sure you see a bunch of whining and complaining within your various communities. How often do you think or even say some expletive aloud, to silence all the negativity?
Effective coaches and communicators know the value of questions, especially open-ended questions that can have the power of an “off” switch of negativity and an “on” switch of possibility.
Consider the following questions, and perhaps make up a few of your own:
- How would you like things to be?
- What could you do to improve the situation?
- What ideas do you have to resolve this issue?
- Where could you look for solutions to this challenge?
- What alternative approaches can be taken to improve things?
How can you find more silver linings and gratitude in the complaints you currently experience?
How can the right question at the right moment be used to move your world forward today?
“How will you put your mind and your time to good use?”
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“Good Question!” is a fairly frequent response I receive from the people I coach.
It says, to me, that we have hit on an area where looking more carefully or digging deeper would prove useful or interesting.
Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas is one of my favorites on this topic.
Breakthroughs in our mind and our use of time may be two useful places to start.
For the next week, be your own coach. Ask and answer questions like the one that is today’s quote. Consider exploring your answers with others in your personal and professional communities. Consider capturing this heavy lifting in a journal or note book.
Please reply to this post and let me know how you put your mind and your time to good use.
“Questions can be like a lever you use to pry open the stuck lid on a paint can.”
—Fran Peavey, late political Author
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Michael Bungay Stainer is a masterful coach whom I greatly admire. I’ve read most of his books and look forward to his daily “Great Work Provocation” blog, which you can explore for yourself at https://boxofcrayons.com/great-work-provocations-series/. His most recent work – The Coaching Habit – includes seven core questions that can help all of us pry open the lids of new possibilities in both our personal and professional worlds. I fully agree that the seven questions provided below will help us all say less, ask more, change the way we lead our lives, and better support those we wish to serve.
- The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
- The AWE Question: And What Else?
- The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
- The Foundation Question: What do you want?
- The Lazy Question: How can I help?
- The Strategic Question: If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?
- The Learning Question: What was most useful for you?
Please consider applying these questions to build your own coaching habit to open up your relationships and your world and lead a more vibrant and beautiful life.
You can also learn more about Michael’s books and his work at www.boxofcrayons.biz
“A question is a magnet… it draws information to you.”
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Children love the game of Hide and Seek. They are always curious about their surroundings. If you have been around kids lately, you have most likely been the recipient of a barrage of questions. They are human sponges, hoping to absorb as much information as possible to seek the hidden mysteries of their worlds.
Powerful questions are among the most important tools used by coaches, leaders, managers, parents, and other supportive individuals. Open-ended questions – those which cannot be answered with simple “yes” or “no” – tend to be the most magnetic.
How can you exercise and discover more of your own youthful curiosity to seek and find more answers to life’s most urgent and important questions?
One of my favorite books on this subject is A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.
FRIDAY REVIEW: QUESTIONS
How often do you question the things you hear or read? Here are a few posts about questions you may have missed. Click the links to read the full message.
“There is more than one right answer.”
“When I look back in five years, which of these options will make the best story?”
“A wise man’s questions contain half the answer.”
“I had six honest serving men: (They taught me all I knew) Their names were Where and What and When and Why and How and Who.”
—Rudyard Kipling, 20th Century English Journalist & Poet
Begin a conversation with any of the Six Honest Serving Men from Kipling’s quote and you’re off to a great start in learning something new. You may even develop or nurture a new or existing relationship.
Powerful open-ended questions beginning with one of the Six Honest Serving Men open doors to new knowledge. They also demonstrate a genuine interest in others, which we all relish.
For today, I suggest you direct these probing and door-opening words toward yourself, to see what new worlds of discovery lie within.
Ask and answer some of your most important and pressing questions of the day. Then consider asking “What Else?” to see what you can learn by probing deeper than your surface answers.
“Learning is a treasure whose keys are queries.”
Have you ever played the lottery hoping to strike it rich? Perhaps as a child you searched on a sandy beach, hoping to find a bit of buried treasure.
The daily pursuit of knowledge and nuggets of wisdom are a form of treasure hunt instantly available to you. Today’s quote points to the importance of curiosity and a mind filled with questions, as keys to opening the vaults and delights of learning.
Consider picking up a copy of A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger to become a more masterful locksmith in opening the treasure chest of life-long learning.
Another book I like very much that will help in this area and develop your own proficiency as a coach is The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier.
“Imagine that the universe is about to whisper the answer to your deepest questions. You do not want to miss it.”
In his book The Divine Matrix, author Gregg Barden takes the reader on a provocative journey bridging science and spirituality. He provides potential clues into how the world works, and man’s role in it.
As a seeker, Braden’s travels have taken him to remote monasteries and high-mountain villages, to review forgotten texts and discover timeless secrets regarding what he sees as the mysteries that connect all things.
Here are a few tantalizing ideas from his book you might explore:
- The bridge between imagination and reality
- Being passive observers versus powerful creators
- Living in a holographic universe
- Living, loving, and healing in quantum awareness
- The Universe is talking to us
Where in your busy and noisy world could you make more time for quiet reflection, and listen more closely for the critical answers to your deepest universal questions?
“Will this make people’s lives meaningfully better?”
—Dave Kashen, CEO at Worklife
Image from MAP Professional Development
As a coach for over 25 years, I have a great fondness for powerful and provocative questions. More often than not, I have a very strong preference for those deeply curious and probing questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Today’s quote is an exception in that it is closed-ended and requires us to determine if our answer is Yes or No.
Most people value making a difference and contributing to those around them. Perhaps we can all use this question to keep us focused on the priority of living an even more meaningful life.
Consider writing this question on a few Post-it-Notes and placing them where you will see them in your personal and professional spaces. Please feel free to write me about what value this exercise provided you and others over the coming weeks.