“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” — Thomas Kempis
If you coach others or you need to encourage change or if you need to change yourself, the key is to use questions.
Lead others to their own insight or your advice may fall on deaf ears.
Lead People to Their Own “Ah-Has”
You know the saying, “you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” Part of the reason is, asking questions puts people into a more receptive state.
When people have their own “ah has” it actually creates an emotional link. This helps the insight stick. The key of course is to ask the right questions.
Are They Motivated
Another reason for asking versus telling is motivation. Sometimes it’s about skills, but sometimes it’s about motivation.
A way to check motivation is simply to ask, “do you want to ….?” (yeah, it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how often that can be revealing.)
Another way to check is to ask, “what do you want to accomplish?”
Asking Questions Helps Them Be Resourceful
Another reason for asking questions is you can actually help put people into a more resourceful state.
I use solution focused questions with my teams and myself to get unstuck. Rather than ask why questions, it’s about shifting to what or how questions … “how can we accomplish that?” … “what would good look like?”
The key to solution focused questions is they are forward looking and they shift tense. The past is about blame, present is about values, but the future is about opportunity. (See Shift Tense to Resolve Conflict)
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