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Make Meetings Matter 2 - Questioning Part 1

Make Meetings Matter 2 - Questioning Part 1

My research identified leaders spending up to 85% of their time at meetings one to one and group meetings. My previous blog dealt with warming up to meetings, here I’m going to share some of the powerful questioning techniques that great leaders that I’ve observed use. 

Powerful Questions 

Most thought, people and specialist leaders ask great questions, often through years of practise.  I asked a group of leaders recently how they decide what questions to ask and here’s what I found: 

  • They’re clear about their  personal outcome at every meeting – the end game
  • They listened more than talked at meetings – and encouraged others to talk 
  • They had a repertoire of question openers for different tasks whether it’s 1-1 coaching; planning; innovating or delegating – for example when coaching direct reports they asked : What’s important to you? What result do you want?  What are the challenges right now? What do you want from me – to be the decider/advisor/helper/coach/rescuer etc? 

Powerful Questions – Constructing them

Linguistic construction does matter… there is the superficial level of language and the deep structure of language. 

All language has three major constraints – generalisations, deletions and distortions. Remember that language also has a cultural meaning that we bring from our own cultural, gender and geographic backgrounds. 
Look at the questions below: which do youconsider superficial and which deep?  Which are more or less powerful to you? 

  • ‘How are you?’   
  • ‘How are you, really?’  
  • ‘Where can I help?’ 
  • ‘What’s the matter?’ 
  • ‘What’s important to you?’
  • ‘What specifically happened?’   
  • ‘How can I assist you be all that you can be?’  
  • ‘What do you want?’  
  • ‘What would you want if you knew?'


Why Questions?

‘Why’ questions – can accidentally invite people to pull up the draw-bridge on conversations. Body language/voice/tone/volume all influence how the question is received.  Often ‘why’ questions can create a barrier to further enquiry or exploration or important issues. 

  • Think about the questions that would expand and explore the issue?
  • How would the others feel or think about this?
  • What options have we/they explored?
  • Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? 
  • Have we included all points of view in our deliberations?
  • Who might we be excluding? Including? 
  • What’s the best outcome for all concerned? 
  • Are we working for the higher good of all concerned?