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How to ask better questions to gain clarity

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Clarity-imageChange can begin the moment we ask a question. Jesus was a master in the use of questions. In the Gospels, he often asks people, “What do you want?”

It has been said that behind every question is an assumption; asking a question can help to test and clarify that assumption for the one asking the question and the one responding.

Questions have the potential to open up a conversation and facilitate discovery. As people articulate their response, they greater awareness and clarity.

What people discover, they tend to own and what they own, they implement. The key to getting the right answer is asking the right question.

4 Questions

L2L has adopted these four questions from Tom Paterson’s life planning process:

⇒What’s right? Enhance

⇒What’s wrong? Change

⇒What’s confused? Clarify

⇒What’s missing? Add

Each of these questions invites increased ownership.

What’s right?” assumes some things are working well.  We need to be reminded not to overlook the positives.

What’s wrong?” asks the  person to recognize what needs to be corrected.

What’s confused?” identifies snarly issues that may be sapping energy and creativity.

What’s missing?” implies something may enhance a leader’s ability to move forward.

When is the best time to ask these questions?

A tense moment of

• decision,

• crisis,

• confusion,

• complexity.

What does the person need to know in order to chart the course forward effectively?


drillBe curious, but for the questionee’s benefit

• Let him answer your questions without interrupting.

• Give her time to respond.

• Allow him to answer fully before you ask the next

• Don’t let the next question keep you from hearing the
   answer to the current question.

• Stay positive.

• Remember, silence can mean different things.

• Listen attentively while she is talking.

• Don’t talk while he is thinking.

—Taken from L2Lnet.org’s L2L Journey eNewsletter

See also “Leaders improve their serve with L2L coaches

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