How do you ask great questions?

‘Problems are questions that are unsolved ’_Tony Robbins

Thinking about throttling that surly teenager? What if you are looking for a way to break through and connect to a difficult employee or child and I say to you- use questions, what would be the first thought that crossed your mind? You’re crazy! Or, what does asking questions have to do with a surly teenager or a difficult disengaged employee?! I would answer- everything that you’re seeking.

Want to solve a challenge at work or home? Here are a few reasons why questions are the solutions to getting answers for problems at work or home. Asking the right question at the right time can:

  • Get the answers you’re seeking
  • Influence people to change from inside out
  • Get more buy-in to you and the idea from your team
  • Clear up misunderstandings
  • Prevent misunderstandings
  • Help to understand resistance to transitions
  • Prevent resistance to transitions when used first

But how do you ask a good question? Most people are too busy coming up with the next question to ask to notice that it’s not how many questions you ask that matters but the types of questions, their timing and how you use silence with them.

“If you don’t let a teacher know at what level you are by asking a question, or revealing your ignorance you will not learn or grow” – S.R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This quote pretty much sums up why we all must start using questions as a tool for getting answers, for getting people to take action and for getting people to maintain the momentum created.

But, it’s a stupid question-or is it? Too many people clam up and not ask a question because they think it’s ‘stupid’ or it shows how ignorant they are. Guess what? That’s what questions are designed to do- show where the gaps are in an employee’s or family member’s understanding of a situation or project. It is by showing ignorance that answers or solutions can now be created. Out of this process will come growth. You are always going to be better off than when you first started.

The flip side is too many people just keep talking and asking all sorts of questions, just to either hear themselves talk or because they are uncomfortable with silence. Just as questions are seen and used as a tool, so too is silence. If you can get comfortable in silence you will be amazed at how much information you get from your employees, peers/co-workers and family members.

Back to the question, how do you ask a good question? And how do you effectively use silence to your advantage?

Below is a 5-step process (AADCA©) I coach clients to use for asking great questions. Here’s what AADCA© stands for:


  • Assumptions: you got to check them (yours and your coachee’s) or your questions are doomed to fail
  • Awareness: without this your employees or family members will keep doing the same things with no growth. This would be insane, right?

D- Discover Solutions: without solutions awareness is futile and unable to move your coachee forward

C-Create Change: when combined with awareness and solutions the next step is to create the psychological state to move into changing existing behaviour into desired behaviour

  • Action: is the end result of the previous 4 steps. Without action your employees or family member are stuck and not experiencing growth.

In my next post I will show you how to use the first of the 5-step AADCA© process. I will follow-up with the others so you are equipped to ask great questions and get people to take action and maintain the action taken.

Here’s to loving how you live, work and play!

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