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 someone 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.
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