What if powerful questions came to you easily in the moment during your debriefs or reflection times?
Will Wise and Chad Littlefield have facilitated workshops, programs, and conversations that matter for over twenty years. In Chapter 3 of their book, Ask Powerful Questions, they talk about the importance of open-ended questions, and a mindset of openness in these situations.
More often than not, difficult topics invite defensive communication or debate into a conversation. For this reason, it is important to review the aspects of another’s perspective.
There are two parts to openness:
- Find that place within yourself where you are actually choosing to be receptive to whatever they may say (good, bad, or ugly;) and
- Discover the mechanics behind asking a question that creates more openness.
The first part is often the most difficult because it is up to you to transform yourself out of a ‘need to be right’ mindset. Setting aside your judgement is tough when hearing ideas that you do not agree with. Do you have people in your life that can say, “I can be open-minded as long as they think like me?”
Listening to those who think differently than you and being open to their truth is a skill that requires practice.
What would happen if we saw each other as experts: experts of our own experience?
Stop Asking Questions That Begin with Why?
The second piece can be done relatively simply. Will suggests you stop asking questions that begin with ‘Why?’ Instead, from a mindset of openness, replace the Why? with How? or What? propositions and re-phrase.
‘Why’ questions are often rooted in judgement and create defensiveness in the other person. They hit the red panic button in the receiver that makes them ask themselves, “What did I do wrong?” or “How can I prove that I’m worthy?” Suddenly more fear is in the conversation than you intend.
The other button is the green ‘I’m valued button.’ These are not the dynamics you want to create in a successful debrief after a powerful experience. ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ questions allow for a more complete story of what is really happening without all the fear, judgement and defence.
Will and Chad’s invitation: Ask questions rooted in your natural, genuine curiosity that start with ‘How?’ or ‘What?’ and see what happens for you. Let experience be the teacher.
To learn more about open-ended questions and openness, watch the ‘behind the scenes’ video on Chapter 3.
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