Marcia Reynolds wrote an article for Lead Change titled Stop Trying to Ask Good Questions.

« … Taking a coaching approach to your leadership conversation should be a process of inquiry, not a series of questions. The intent of inquiry is to provoke critical thinking to discern gaps in logic, evaluate the value of beliefs, and clarify fears and desires affecting someone’s outlook and behavior. It takes more than a series of questions to change perception and behavior. »

« The use of reflective statements, such as summarizing stories, encapsulating key beliefs, and sharing observed emotional shifts, can be more powerful than seeking the magical question. »

« Additionally, the time you spend trying to remember or formulate a good question is time you are in your head and not present to the person you are with. You miss key statements and expressions. They may sense a disconnection. I always say, “They want you to be present more than they need you to be perfect.” »

« Also, asking a series of questions can feel like an interrogation, damaging trust and rapport. Without reflective statements, questions feel more like an impersonal formula than a spontaneous process. Starting with a reflective statement and then asking a question about the statement makes coaching feel more natural and considerate. »

« Summarizing what someone is telling you—including encapsulating the major elements of their story in just a few words—and then asking a question that arises from your curiosity is an effective and effortless way to coach. »

« We don’t recognize the faults in our reasoning unless someone prompts us to question our thinking. »

« A good question can disturb people’s equilibrium enough to test the validity or absurdity of their thoughts. Questions help them assess their beliefs in a way they can’t do for ourselves. When a question prompts people to stop and reflect on their opinions and perceptions, they may instantly see what actions they need to take now. »

Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, MCC, is the author of Coach the Person, Not the Problem: A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry

See also Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein.

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