Richard Maun – 3 Quick Tips: Favourite Questions

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3 Quick Tips: Favourite Questions

20 May 2013

I’m firmly of the opinion that great managers ask great questions and, being a business coach, my stock in trade is a cupboard full of useful questions. I’m always impressed when a timely question unlocks a new possibility for a client, or generates that moment of deeper reflection.

The art of asking questions is about listening to what someone is really saying and then gently prompting them to consider fresh perspectives. To encourage broader thinking here are three great questions to ask:

1) What is going to get in the way?

2) What do the numbers tell us?

3) What are three other options (assuming I can make them happen for you by a wave of my wand)?

The reason these questions work well is because:

1) Asking people about stoppers and blockers tends to surface their fears. If something is going to get in the way, we might as well get it out in the open and test it a bit, to see what the reality is.

2) Asking about facts is a good way to check the reality of a situation. However, facts can sometimes be an opinion wrapped in an assumption, so asking for the numbers cuts through this. Numbers tend to be objective and therefore are more reliable.

3) There are always more options than we realize and by naming them we tend to expand our thinking. This can often lead us to reveal a secret wish that lurks inside us, but which we are reluctant to name for fear of sounding ‘silly’. By making the discussion more imaginative people can share options and make progress.

The thing to notice about great questions is that they are usually short questions, as that makes them easier to answer. What’s the shortest question you know?

Have fun!

Next week: ‘The SRS of Leadership’


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