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.
“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?”
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.