How to ask really good questions

My father visited us this Christmas; I hadn’t seen him for over a year and was very keen to catch up. Particularly as his life has been extremely tumultuous over the last 12 months. Relationships, moving to France, journeys, people – his life is very complex and I was dying to find out everything. You simply can’t extract these things on Facebook or even on Skype, so I thought a wholesome meal and a glass or two of a good red wine would loosen his tongue.

Boy was I in a state of curiosity

And it worked a treat – my questions were subtle, delving and curious without being interrogational. I was on top form on the listening stakes, not judging him or butting in with too many questions. Yes, the wine helped, but it was my intense state of curiosity that contributed the most.

The next time I need to operate as an effective coach, I’m going to recall this moment as vividly as I can, because it changes my state from normal to a state of curiosity. That’ll help me craft better questions and listen more powerfully.

So think of a time in your past, when you were amazingly curious to find out something, sink the story into your main memory and recall it whenever you need to change your state. I will, using that illuminating evening during Christmas last year.

Other ways you can learn to ask really good questions:

  • Self talk yourself with affirmations – “I’m going to ask great questions”, “I’m going to ask great questions”…
  • Breathing to relax yourself. Long breaths can ensure you are ready to ask great questions.
  • Future pace yourself. Plan in your mind the meeting that’s coming up and mentally rehearse your great questioning.
  • Have a ritual such as a special pair of glasses, if I find myself TWT’ering or TWL’ing, I pick up my reading glasses and wipe the lenses as a reminder, a ritual. You might have a special curiosity shirt or cuff links. These anchors do work.

And I thought my life was exciting, you ought to hear the details of my fathers who’s going to turn 74 this summer.