Seven Questions that Empower

By Ann
March 19, 2015

Socrates made famous the process of asking questions to require thinking-- a rare activity at times. For entrepreneurs, thinking is crucial to your success.

All questions are not created equal. Clarifying questions help someoneBlue question mark meZ8FHI come up with their own solutions. This is the thinking part.

Advising questions tell someone what he should be doing to address the situation. Imbedded in the advising question is your opinion of what is the right approach. Telling questions imply that you are right and he is wrong. This is a good way to create a defensive posture.

Empowering questions focus on what is already working and not the problem. Focus on the problem attracts more of the same.

Empowering questions lead to a solution. There is no blame for what is not working.

When someone arrives at a conclusion about how to solve a problem, it not only requires critical thinking but it also gives them ownership in the results.

These seven questions are empowering questions:

1. What is the ideal situation that you want to achieve?

2. What have you tried so far?

3. What professionals have you asked about this issue?

4. Why are the current circumstances a problem?

5. If the current issue is not addressed, what are the costs to you?

6. How will the change that you are considering make a difference in your results?

7. What data do you have that illustrates the issue?

Once I became aware of the difference between clarifying questions and advising question, I notice the difference in radio and TV interviews. When the question begins, “Don’t you think it would be better to _________?” I know immediately the interviewer is not seeking information but rather telling the guest what the right approach is. It is merely disguised as a question.

What is your method of asking questions that empower? The ones that engage thinking and inspire results.

© 2015 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

3 comments on “Seven Questions that Empower”

  1. I love your insightful messages, Thank you Anne! I am wondering about your thoughts regarding asking questions in different roles and environments. In my career, often working in male dominated fields, I have noticed if I ask a question that helps the other person (superior position, male) arrive at a conclusion they take credit and/or think I don't know anything. I seem to get stuck in job roles because I'm never seen as capable of more. I'm thinking in a relationship (husband/wife, parent/child, etc) it would be good to ask an empowering questions but in a job situation I have started stating my opinion and ideas and ask if the other people agree or have other ideas about what should be done. What do you think?

    1. Thank you, Jan, for your comments. Empowering questions [a.k.a. clarifying questions] are powerful tools personally and professionally. To address someone taking credit for your ideas or your work, I have found a great resource, "BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing it." You must be a smart and relentless advocate for yourself and this book gives you the way to do it. You have had many successes both personally and professionally. Remembering these is the place to start to build your confidence and be your own best advocate.

  2. Hi Ann,
    These questions are very similar to the ones I ask to ascertain if a client and I are a good fit. Thanks for another "empowering" piece.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *