The Power of Questions

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We wrapped our first Xperiential MBA event in 2024 this week in Bellingham, WA.

The city created a great backdrop for the 50+ leaders who joined us for a few days of recharging our business spirit for the coming year. We learned, laughed & played. Had impactful conversations, ate amazing food and developed connections.

The conversation that so many of the leaders in our group gravitated to was our topic around questions.

The power of questions is simple… It allows people to formulate answers for themselves, from their own perspective, which gives them the experience of personal power.

I love questions and asking them to create change in what someone thinks & even feels. I will often ask people “what are you feeling?” The answers to this particular question puts people in a more cerebral mindset and will define what they are feeling in a more matter of fact kind of way. I’ll sometimes follow-up with “how are you feeling?” People go internal and feel whatever emotion deeper and put fewer words to it.

The only difference in the question is the words “what” vs “how.” Vastly different responses come from the switch of those little words.

That is an illustration around the power of questions.

Ask Empowering Questions

An empowering question is a way of expanding the mind of the recipient of the question. It leads to thinking more deeply and differently.

An empowering question is an open-ended question. “What’s important to you?” “What’s another way to think about that?” “What would you do if you knew you could do it?” “What’s the purpose of this?”

Each of those questions cause you to think in bigger, different ways. They do not lead anywhere specific. 

There’s no agenda from the asker. It gives the recipient space to craft an answer that means something with them, giving them ownership in the answers, leading to more motivation, actions and results.

What’s amazing is you can also ask yourself these type questions and you’ll be the beneficiary.

Become More Curious

Amazing entrepreneurs have a similar trait – curiosity. “what will work better?” “What does the market need?” “how can I bring more value to my customers?” The more curious entrepreneurs have the more impactful they could be.

The story of Netflix got its start from curiosity. Reid Hastings, the co-founder and former CEO of Netflix, started the company because he drove by a Blockbuster video on his way into work. He asked “why do I need to rent and return videos to this location?” “how could we make video rentals easier for customers?” “how could someone offer more movie titles easier?”

The curiosity he experienced on that drive to work paved the way for his and his co-founders’ curiosity to create Netflix, which disrupted an entire industry. The more curious entrepreneurs and leaders stay, the more innovative they can be.

Questions are the basis of curiosity. You must be curious if you are genuinely asking questions.

Changing Minds & Hearts

Answer this “what’s lousy about your week?” If you answer that, you’ll tap into the feeling of that lousiness.

Answer this “what are you excited about?” If you do, you’ll then tap into feelings and thoughts of excitement.

Using questions, because of how they lead the recipient to an internal experience, can change what someone thinks and how they feel.

The way you frame a question will evoke a mental or emotional response. Here’s the general frames:

  • “Who” questions: thinking outside of themselves
  • “What” questions: thought provoking
  • “How” questions: process and formation
  • “Where” questions: location-oriented or spacial-oriented 
  • “When” questions: temporal-based
  • “Why” questions: interrogative and defensive provoking

To help someone change what they think and process ideas, thought, emotions, use these frameworks to evoke what changes you think will lead to a breakthrough and action.

Needle movers know that asking more questions and the right questions in the moment will keep them sharper and better able to learn, grow and exceed.

What is important to you about asking great questions?

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