How I Drained the Power from a Great Question
Bill said, “I remember you asked a really powerful question. I felt the energy go up.” He was reflecting on a coaching conversation I had with him and Kevin months ago.
Bill illustrated his point by pushing his hand in the air like a plane taking off. But then his hand leveled off and started descending.
He said, “Kevin and I remember you saying, “I’m just going to stop talking.” I had forgotten a basic rule of coaching. Ask a question and shut up.
But I had already blabbed too long. The question had lost most of its power.
I remember sitting with Bill* at a small table in Kevin’s office. Kevin* sat at his desk. None of us remember the question. All three of us remember the moment when I realized I had talked too long.
Kevin nodded while Bill said, “Now we tell each to just stop talking.”
Honor the question:
- Brevity is power. Blabbing softens the impact of powerful questions.
- Embrace discomfort. It takes courage to ask powerful questions. The need to blab reflects personal discomfort.
- Cause shifts in thinking.
- Create tipping points.
- Confront inconsistencies.
- Challenge comfortable ideas.
- Begin with “What” or “How.”
- Provide opportunity to think, if the questioner stops talking.
The longer you talk – after asking a powerful question – the weaker the question becomes.
What makes a question powerful?
How might leaders ask powerful questions?
*Bill and Kevin are Principals of All4 Inc. Bill is CEO. Kevin is COO. Both are long-time friends with each other.