The Power Of Questions

By Chris Chittenden

"Coaching is a love affair with questions."

... Julio Olalla

What comes to mind for you when you think about asking questions? Do you think about finding out the information you need? Maybe you see asking questions as prying or simply a way of engaging with people. We all ask questions, yet some people are more aware of the power of questions than others.

Coaching is predicated on the idea that people are capable of finding their own solutions to the issues in their life. It is just at the moment, they are unable to see those solutions. As a result, Coaches do not generally provide advice rather they ask questions to provide their client with an opportunity to work out for themselves what they need to do. Hence Coaches are well aware of the power of asking questions in order to not just find things out but to open new possibilities and generate action.

The power of questions not only lies in the quality of the questions themselves, but also in the way in which people deal with the questions they are asked. Most people instinctively will answer a question that they are asked. At the very least, they generally will acknowledge the question and deal with it in some way.

Of course, some people are very skilled in not answering the questions they are asked. Politicians spring to mind as an example. They are well trained to say what they want to say no matter what questions are asked of them. They recognise an opportunity to get their message across and doggedly pursue that opportunity by repeating their message, often to the point of tedium.

What the politicians and others like them have recognised is that the person who asks the questions largely creates the direction of the conversation as people will instinctively respond to those questions. As a result, skilful questioning combined with effective listening can direct a conversation to places the questioner desires.

Most people seek to steer a conversation by making their point and expecting that others will go where they want. More often than not, this leads to people talking at each other and the conversation going nowhere in particular as often neither feels acknowledged.

Hence the power of questions lies in part in the power to take the conversation in certain directions and to do so in a way that enhances the relationship with the other person. We invite you to explore the power of questions and the impact that has on your conversations and relationships.

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© 2004 Chris Chittenden