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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

16 Sep '10

The Magic of Questions

Many of us are great at telling others what we think and sharing our opinions or telling others what they should think or do. Fewer of us are great at asking questions which draw others out, show our interest in them or create dialogue around issues that allow us to understand others or get to common understanding. For those who develop this skill, there is a special magic in the way others respond to them.



One of my sons is currently looking for a job and a good friend has been coaching him on interviews. The first thing he taught Jon to do was to look around the office of the one doing the interview and notice everything that was there because every book, magazine, picture or memento tells a story about the individual. And then he suggested Jon comment on those items and ask appropriate questions to draw out the interviewer.


Why? Because relational connection is everything in an interview. Actually, relational connection is everything in all of our interactions and learning how to be naturally curious and ask good questions goes a long way in making that connection.


“Tell me about….” questions allow you to ask about situations, decisions or thinking of another person. It sparks a narrative or story which provides context and understanding about a specific issue. It is an open ended question that allows the narrator to take it where they desire and allows for one to follow up to clarify.


“How did you…..” questions are wonderful questions if you want to understand how someone is wired because it is really asking how one went about tackling a specific issue or dealing with a specific problem. All of us go after issues differently so “how” questions help you understand how they are wired.


“Tell me why….” questions allow you to probe why someone chose a certain course of action and if asked well does not indicate rightness or wrongness but simply why they chose that course. If the course of action was problematic one can follow up. Often, one will understand the rationale that they did not understand before for a course of action.


“What are you learning these days about….” allows one to probe on any number of subjects and often reveals the cutting edge issues that people are grappling with opening up a wonderful dialogue on the subject.


The magic of questions is that it creates relationship, gives great insight into the thinking and styles of others and most importantly gives honor to the one to whom we ask the questions. The more questions we ask, the more we honor others and the more we understand.