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Ask Great Questions

Written by: | Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Here is a great question to use with anyone you meet or connect with, “What the best thing that has happened to you today?”

This is a powerful playful question the appreciative inquiry expert Robyn Stratton-Berkessel shares in her TEDx Navesink talk. By asking this positivity-based question, several very important things happen:

  1. We connect and engage another. The mere fact of stopping things to ask a question lets them know they are valuable, and worth our time and attention (even if we don’t know them – think people in line, at the airport, in a cab, etc.).
  2. We gather information. We are in a world of information – the more we openly gather information, the more possibilities and opportunities we can consider – our world gets larger. Asking questions encourages others to share what they think and known – we can get wiser.
  3. We focus on the positive. Notice the questions asked about the “best” thing. This focus on the positive changes the nature of the connection between people; it activates powerful anabolic emotions and can positively influence the entire direction of a conversation.

Each of us has unique abilities – talents, strengths and passions – that frame our view of ourselves and our world. So the question, “What is the best thing that has happened to you today?” will bring each of us to our unique place, allow us to see the world in our way and feel important to share it with whomever is asking.

Many times I hear (in our programs that teach parents how to be more present, mindful and aware of themselves and their kids) that parents can’t get their kids to engage. Our kids are stuck to their technology – in the car, at the table, in front of the TV – glued to their phone or tablet. Asking a positive question of your kids first engages them (you have shifted out of telling – one-sided – into asking – two-sided), focuses on what is right with them (not what is wrong or deficient) and creates the space for interaction. When we ask our kids questions that they want to answer, we create the interest for them to disconnect from their technology to be present. This creates the ability over time for all types of questions to be asked and all types of discussions to happen. Positive inquiry questions can change the communication dynamic and create the space for larger, more significant conversations that will need to happen over the course of your kids’ lives.

This is similar in the workplace with our employees and at home with our spouses or partners. We get so distracted with the pace of things around us that a reframed question about the good can activate our powerful anabolic energy. This reframing can change our mood and our response. We each can affect the way the people we care about show up to the moments of their lives.This also creates the time and space to have more difficult conversations (because that is what life brings).

So, just imagine if you were to ask this question to your employees, spouse, partner, kids or friends. What would change in your interaction, connection and relationship if you took the time to ask, then really listened? What would you learn, see or be introduced to? How could this help both of you see their greatness?How could this help you see your own greatness?

Great news should always be shared and learning to ask positive-focused questions is great news. Please share this with someone who can benefit from it. And check out this week’s podcast with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel and her great book Appreciative Inquiry for Collaborative Solutions; 21 Strength-based Workshops. And contact me to learn more about how our workshops and Greatness Zone coaching can prepare you to better connect with your true self and the important people in your life.

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