Richard Maun – Powerful Questions

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Powerful Questions

6 July 2014

Think for a moment, think back to when you were a teenager and faced a barrage of questions from your parent or care giver. As a student, I particularly enjoyed these gems:

1. How much gin did you say you drank yesterday?

2. Aaaargh what have you done to your hair?

3. Richard, you need a double duvet in your new student flat…why?

Each of these were powerful questions because they had come rushing at me from my mum, when I hadn’t foreseen them. Usually, I failed to grasp that my mum’s viewpoint would be that of a concerned parent….I would canter on chatting away and then a question would come at me and I’d have to think of a terribly good answer in a very short space of time.

As a coach I use powerful questions all the time. They are designed to reveal to people just how good they are, encourage them to share the key issue, commit to action, or pause and think deeply.

Asking powerful questions is easy…you just need to listen carefully to what is buried in the other person’s comments, or what they are not saying, or what doesn’t add up to you. Then your powerful question is:

A) Something they didn’t expect to be asked, and yet seems obvious to you.

B) One that makes them gasp and say ‘oh that’s a good question!’

C) Based on a number, such as ‘How great is it to be the only sales person to win £1m worth of business this year?’

D) Any question that contains the word ‘really.’

There used to be an advert for Hellman’s mayonnaise which alleged that simply by adding a dollop to your food – zing – your dinner was transformed into a banquet. I have no scientific evidence for this transformation and yet I have plenty of anecdotal experience that says if you add ‘really’ to a question it probes deeper and harder than would otherwise be the case. It turns any old question into a powerful question.

This week have fun asking your partner or friend what they would really like to buy you for your next birthday! The answer may provoke a fun conversation!

Or…you can listen to your colleagues and practice powerful questions with them!

Next week: Less Hours More Work


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