Posing questions to deepen thinking is a valuable leadership practice. It is one of the most powerful ways to help others shift their thinking and see new perspectives. It is an art and skill that can be mastered with practice.
If you pose reflective questions and encourage the other person to pause and think before responding, then you will both begin to shift your thinking and uncover new perspectives.
Questions to deepen thinking are not meant to be “asked” and “answered.” They are designed to be “posed” and “responded to.” The dynamic of posing a question that is 1) not leading, diagnostic, or challenging and 2) not required to be answered; leads to deeper thinking, automatically.
Pose Rather than Ask
“Asking”a question implies that you are requesting information or an answer. “Posing” a question, on the other hand, introduces a thought for consideration. Derived from the Latin for pause, posing a question sets the tone for introspection and allows the other person to reflect.
Respond Instead of Answer
Think of a response as “thinking out loud.” A response doesn’t require an answer or a solution. It is simply uttering something in reply as a means to continue the thought process and the conversational exchange.
Questions to Deepen Thinking
- Have you ever intentionally asked a question that you did not want an answer to?
- Have you ever resisted the urge to answer a question to allow time for reflecting?
- When instructed to hold an answer for a period of time, how many times does your response change in your head?
Block, P. (2008). Community: The structure of belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-KoehlerPublishers, Inc.
Koffman, F. (n.d.). Advocacy and inquiry: Combining the basic steps of the dance of communication. Retrieved from Conscious Business Blog: http://www.axialent.com/uploads/paper/archivo/Advocacy_and_Inquiry_by_Fred_Kofman.pdf
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