Sunday, 1 April 2018

My favourite coaching tools: Open Question How

I've been reflecting on a multitude of interactions over a number of years trying to improve my speech metaphors, better questions, less leading and less inference.

Along the way, learning about the simple Open Questions / Closed Questions model used a great deal by Business Analysts, as well as facilitators of new ideas and group consensus.

Open Questions are divergent - they cause the person asked to provide new insights from their own subjective experience or beliefs. Typically these are the Where, What, When, Who, How. And not the Why as it is too aggressive for the recipient.

Closed Questions are convergent - they cause the person asked to move forward with their ideas or their decisions. Typically these are the Yes or No, This or That.

Along the way I noticed is that most/all "Why?" questions can (and should) be reframed with the other Where, What, When, Who and How questions.

Further along the way I noticed that with a bit more effort most/all Where, What, When, and Who questions can be rephrased with How. And based on some stakeholders feedback, that's a very good idea as it seemed to unlock many more options and more possibilities in people's minds.

For Example:

  • Why did you do that? Becomes
    • What did you hope to achieve by doing that? Becomes
      • How did you think it would turn out, and how did it turn out?

  • Why do you think we should speak to xyz? Becomes
    • What do you think we could learn from speaking to xyz? Becomes
      • How does speaking to xyz help us?

There are 2 books which have been particularly useful to me, and I am sure there are multitudes others. "Metaphors We Live By" by George Lackoff and Mark Johnson, and "Steps to an Ecology of Mind" by Gregory Bateson - but more on these later! 

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