Keep your questions clean!

Keep your questions clean!

Keep your questions clean!

Have you ever thought about how the questions we ask as managers, parents, coaches or friends may unintentionally contain assumptions based on our ‘map of the world’?

And did you know that when we ask questions laden with our own often unconscious assumptions, we may be hindering the quality of others’ thinking, offering our own solutions when their own would be more powerful?

Take this as an example, A colleague or client states,  ‘I’m stuck and there’s no way out’. One way we may respond is by asking, ‘who could help you find a way out?’. A fair question, perhaps.

But what are the assumptions embedded in that question?

That there’s a way out?
That someone else could help?
That they want to find a way out?
That they need help?

How would it be instead if we were to ask a question which is clear of our own assumptions, which is ‘clean’? We would be enabling the person to find insights, knowledge and opportunities which are unique and meaningful to them (not us!)

Clean language expert Jackie Lawlor explains, ‘Clean Language questions have a special kind of magic about them -they don’t add anything. Linguistically as free as possible from influence, the questions encourage the client to visit and stay with their own inner landscape, discovering things they didn’t know they knew.’

Examples of ‘clean questions’ include:

  • And what kind of …… is that ……?
  • And what would you like to have happen? 

So our question becomes, ‘and what kind of stuck is that stuck with no way our’ or ‘and what would you like to have happen’? These questions invite people to access metaphors, the language of our unconscious and help them dig deeper into what’s really going on. They may talk about, ‘well, my whole body feels as if its sinking into the ground’, or ‘every door that was opened to me is closed’. 

When two people are in rapport, questions like the above make perfect sense, and the responses have a quality of deep introspection and self-discovery. People often find new awareness which transforms deeply embedded thinking patterns and enables new solutions and understanding.

Jackie Lawlor is facilitating a 3-hour masterclass, Using Clean Language to Enhance Your Coaching Toolkit on 20th November. Do come and join us!

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