April 10, 2007

Effective questions for helping and providing direction

Asking questions is an important characteristic of the solution-focused approach. Rather than telling clients how to think and what to do, a solution-focused therapist, coach or consultant asks questions which help the client develop goals and find solutions. Examples of useful questions are scaling questions, the miracle question, perspective change questions and coping questions. Asking rather than telling potentially has the effect of activating the other person. This does not only work in the context of helping (like in therapy, coaching and consulting) but also in management and organisational development. The following quotes are nice illustrations of the power of questions:
  • “We run the company by questions, not by answers.” - Eric Schmidt (picture), CEO of Google (source)
  • "Great results begin with great questions. - Marilee Adams, author of Change your questions, change your life.
Of course, it is important to know how to ask EFFECTIVE questions. After all, not all questions will lead to great results. In this article we provide some suggestions on how you can ask activating questions while at the same time providing direction.

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