If You Want Answers, Remember to Ask Empowering Questions

If You Want Answers, Remember to Ask Empowering Questions

Perhaps you have experienced one of the following situations?  You are talking to your children or spouse and attempting to obtain information from them, and all you get back is a string of “yes” or “no” answers.   Or you are at a gathering where you are meeting many new people and want to get a conversation started but are having difficulty.  Possibly, you have a problem that is troubling you and you are trying to find the answer within yourself.

If you want to get either conversation going or ideas flowing in your mind, ask empowering questions.

What is an empowering question? It is one that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer.  It is one that requires the one you pose the question to, to gather their thoughts and explain them with some level of detail.   They are excellent at getting to know how those around you think and even how you are thinking yourself.

How do you know if your question is empowering? One hint is the first word used in asking the question.  If your question begins with the words, “What”, “Why”, “Where” “Who” or “How”, it is an empowering question.  When questions are begun with one of these 5 words you are asking your listener to:

•    Provide a response based on their experiences, thoughts or input.
•    Provide an answer that has to be longer than 1 word.
•    Invite your listener to share and expand on their experiences.
•    Put you in a better position to learn more about an individual, situation or way of doing something.

Empowering questions are a great tool to use to work oneself through a midlife transition issue.  If stuck for an answer as to how you may want to proceed in your life, ask yourself a question such as:

•    What would I like the outcome to be of this change?
•    Who may I need assistance of to make it happen?
•    Why is it important to me at this point of my life to move forward in this way?
•    How is my response to this situation different from the way I may have previously responded?
•    Where may I find resources to learn more about the solution I am seeking?

The tremendous thing about empowering questions is their ability to not only stimulate your thought processes but to generate additional questions.  Those additional questions may in turn generate answers and ideas that you may not have even considered before you took the time to interrogate your inner most thoughts.  They provide to you (if you are questioning yourself on how to proceed), or to your listener a sense of ownership in the situation being addressed.   They are a common staple of those in the coaching and self help professions to draw the best they can from their clients.

So, the next time you are stuck for an answer, want to increase your knowledge or just enjoy the art of conversation, remember those empowering questions.  They will aid you in increasing your knowledge of your world and in getting to truly know those around you.