Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (Part 5)

September 26, 2012

ask questionsAsking Questions is the foundation of CO2 Partners and founder Gary Cohen. He is not alone in his remarkable approach to leadership: ask great questions. In this series of posts, I have been discussing “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” by Marilee Adams, MSW, Ph.D. She offers 10 very powerful tools to improve communication–both personally and professionally by how to ask questions. Today, I’ll conclude with tools 9 & 10.

Tool 9:  Create Breakthroughs with Q-Storming®

A common theme from both Cohen and Adams is to ask questions. Questions, and only questions, can help you overcome limiting beliefs, false or misleading assumptions, and keep you off of the JUDGER path. So, what better way to work with your team than to have a Q-Storming® session.

We have all experienced the ubiquitous brainstorming session where we throw out potential solutions to a problem. Then we rack and stack those solutions, combine like solutions, and develop a plan to move forward. But what if we are trying to solve the wrong problem? What if we asked the wrong questions before we began to brainstorm? Asking the right questions allows you to properly frame the issue–whether it be strategic planning, problem solving, decision making, innovation, leadership development, etc.

Start with Q-Storming®. Make sure that you put all the all the questions out onto the table, in a supportive team environment, before you rush to a solution.

Tool 10:  Ask the Top Twelve Questions for Success

This list is taken directly from Change your Questions Change your Life:

  1. What do I want?
  2. What are my choices?
  3. What assumptions am I making?
  4. What am I responsible for?
  5. How else can I think about this?
  6. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?
  7. What am I missing or avoiding?
  8. What can I learn (from this person or situation, from this mistake or failure, from this success)?
  9. What action steps make the most sense?
  10. What questions should I ask (of myself or others)?
  11. How can I turn this into a win-win?
  12. What’s possible?

What is the “secret sauce” in these questions?  The magical elixir is that each of these questions is empowering, open-ended, thought-provoking, and leads to other questions. You will not find a “yes” or “no” question in any list of empowering questions. Yes or no questions are meant to pigeonhole somebody and lead them to where you want them to go. This will frustrate you and your team. We see this all the time in the on-going political debates. Are you in favor of “X”? That type of question is formulated to get you on a path that creates dissent and difference so that the JUDGER can be fed.

Develop your team and ask questions that are empowering. You will get better solutions, a more energized team, and deeper buy-in going forward.

Related Posts to how to ask questions

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (Part 1)

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (Part 2)

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (Part 3)

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life (Part 4)


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