A Guest Post on Questions!

A simplymillwood INTRO: I’ve said it often: QUESTions drive us forward.

I am a quest kind of guy – I love the journey (“smell the roses,” you know). The destination is great, but I’m all about the quest!

Our modern culture is more caught up in answers. However, answers often lead people to abandon the quest, which I do not see as a good thing.

  • First you settle down
  • Next you settle in
  • Shortly thereafter you hunker down, and
  • Start defending your place

That defensive posture creates an environment where anybody who does not see things exactly as I see them is my enemy!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a guy who thinks there is no such thing as absolute truth.

On the contrary, I have staked my whole life on the notion that there is and that said TRUTH is not a concept, philosophical proposition, or idea – rather TRUTH is a Person named, Jesus, called the Christ.

However, the written records that exist of Jesus’ life and times clearly note the value He placed on QUESTions. He asked them ceaselessly. Again and again He answered questions with QUESTions. He intuitively knew that questions – good questions – keep us seeking, searching, leaning forward… they unite us. Whereas answers seem to divide us – particularly dividing those who call themselves followers of the Christ!

All that to say, I am training to ask better questions – good questions – the kind of questions that do move me forward, toward the One who is TRUTH. And, the kind of questions that help others make similar steps in His direction.

One of my mentors in that journey is Keith Webb. Keith is a coach and trainer of coaches. He writes primarily to that audience. However, we all find ourselves in coaching conversations from time to time. His blog this last week was helpful to me for coaching settings, coaching conversations, and spiritual quest, so I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy!

Questions That Limit or Expand
by Dr. Keith E. Webb, ACC

“Would you like oatmeal or yogurt and toast for breakfast?” a mother asks her 5 year old.

“I’ll have sugar frosties,” the child answers.

Mom replies, “Your choices are oatmeal or yogurt and toast.”

“Ok, I’ll just have yogurt and toast.”

Notice how Mom’s question limits the girl’s breakfast choices. Why does she ask it that way? Because otherwise the child might eat sugar frosties every morning!

This story illustrates the subtle ways that we use questions to control a conversation and limit choices for the other person. For a child this may be the proper thing to do. However, if you listen carefully to yourself and others, we do the same thing all day long. And we may not even be aware we are doing it.

Limited Choices
“Would you like to go to a movie tonight?”
“Do you think Emma or Daniel could help you?”
“Are you working on your class preparation this afternoon?”

Closed questions, right? So open them up and get your limiting ideas out of the way:

“What would you like to do tonight?”
“Who could help you?”
“When will you do your class preparation?”

Guard Rails
We put up “guard rails” to keep the other person within the boundaries that we consider to be logical, effective, or “safe.” For example, rather than asking questions about completely starting a project over, we ask questions about only incremental changes. Or visa-versa.

Consciously or unconsciously our thinking, our ideas, our trust of the other person leaks into our questions. When we put up “guard rails” we try to steer others in the direction we want them to go. How much do you trust people to choose their own path and put forward their own choices?

Our questions have the power to expand the other person’s thinking, or limit it.

How About You?

  • Listen to your questions today. Are you limiting choices?
  • What “guard rails” are you using with other people?
  • Look for opportunities to “trust” others more in your conversations. See what happens!

Copyright © 2011 Keith E. Webb & CRM

Dr. Keith E. Webb is a trainer and experienced cross-cultural leadership coach helping organizations, teams, and individuals multiply their cross-cultural impact. Find free articles at http://www.CreativeResultsManagement.com.


About christmasandicecream

Grace & Peace to you all! I'm Randy. I am a follower of Jesus - sometimes close up and, sadly, sometimes way too far away. My best friend, administrative assistant, partner, and high school sweetheart all live with me and go by the same name: Adele. She and I are part of a relationally-focused, small group based Church family that helps us along spiritual quest. Our boys are both grown now. We have a wonderful daughter-by-marriage and 2 truly GRANDchildren... 1 boy and 1 girl. We are Corgi people and now oversee the care of 1 spoiled Corgi puppy named Elly May. I am a devoted fan of 2 'seasons' in each year: Christmas and baseball!! At my house, a Christmas tree goes up somewhere within days of the close of the Fall Classic (baseball lingo for the World Series) and a Christmas tree stays up all the way through Spring Training. In between it is non-stop celebration of the Incarnation. I live in the Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S.A. and, among other things, work as a coach and consultant with an incredibly diverse network of churches that make up the BCMD. My Church-roots are in the Baptist bucket of the Christian ice cream shop. But, just because I have a favorite flavor, doesn't mean I don’t like them all! I do. I work with things like soul care & leadership development of pastor/pastoral team members; with small, simple, organic models of church life; with relational strategies of spiritual formation; and with the health of the Church. I taught at New Orleans seminary for a decade and have served in local churches for 30 years. I am currently part of the faculty of Rockbridge Seminary – a new kind of seminary for a new kind of Church – where I also play a role on the Academic Council. *I am obliged to note that questions, comments, ideas, views,... just about anything you read here, are mine, and not those of BCMD, RS, any other organization or school I work for, or those of most normal people. Thanks for visiting. Come back again.
This entry was posted in RestDay Reflections, simple QUESTions and random thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

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