Consider these four types of questions — Clarifying, Adjoining, Funneling, and Elevating— each aimed at achieving a different goal:
Clarifying questions help us better understand the content, what has been said. In many conversations, people speak past one another. Asking clarifying questions can help uncover the real intent behind what is said. These help us understand each other better and lead us toward relevant follow-up questions. “Can you tell me more?” and “What make you say so?” both fall into this category. People often don’t ask these questions, because they tend to make assumptions and complete any missing parts themselves.
Adjoining questions are used to explore related aspects of the problem that are ignored in the conversation. Questions such as, “How would this concept apply in a different context?” or “What are the related uses of this technology?” fall into this category. For example, asking “How would these insights apply in Canada?” during a discussion on customer life-time value in the U.S. can open a useful discussion on behavioral differences between customers in the U.S. and Canada. Our laser-like focus on immediate tasks often inhibits our asking more of these exploratory questions, but taking time to ask them can help us gain a broader understanding of context.
Funneling questions are used to dive deeper. We ask these to understand how an answer was derived, to challenge assumptions, and to understand the root causes of problems. Examples include: “How did you do the analysis?” and “What make you decide not to include this step?” Funneling can naturally follow the design of a value and belief, such as, “Can we take this value or belief and drive it down to a situation?” Most analytical question – especially those embedded in business operations – does an excellent job of using these questions.
Elevating questions raise broader issues and highlight the bigger picture. They help you zoom out to uncover unknown assumption. Being too immersed in an immediate problem makes it harder to see the overall context behind it. So you can ask, “Taking a step back, what are the larger issues?” or “Are we even addressing the right question?” For example, a discussion on issues like margin decline and decreasing customer satisfaction could turn into a broader discussion of corporate strategy with an elevating question: “Instead of talking about these issues separately, what are the larger trends we should be concerned about? How do they all tie together?” These questions take us to a higher playing field where we can better see connections between individual problems.
In today’s fast pace world, there’s a rush to answer. Ubiquitous access to data and volatile business or personal demands are accelerating this sense of urgency. But we must slow down and understand each other better in order to avoid poor decisions and succeed in this environment. Because asking questions requires a certain amount of vulnerability, corporate or personal cultures must shift to promote this behavior. Leaders or Coach should encourage people to ask more questions, based on the goals they’re trying to achieve, instead of having them rush to deliver answers. In order to make the right decisions, people need to start asking the questions that really matter.
Looks back to see where ideas came from and then look ahead to discover where those ideas may lead. A new idea is a beginning, not an end. Ideas are rare – milk them. Following the consequences of small ideas can result in big payoffs. Open ones mind to allow ideas flow like Water
During coaching session
- Action request—an action they design for themselves…not one that we “want them to take”. Explore actions, potential barriers, commitment levels and structures that may need to be in place.
- What action can you commit to taking in this idea?
Embracing the four basic elements for effective coaching, and we devised an easy way to remember them. You only need to recall the elements that were once believe to be the essential parts of all nature and matter. Those elements, which predated Socrates and influenced Renaissance culture and thought are Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. So to help trigger your memory and enable you to apply these techniques, we associate each element with one of our strategies for effective thinking, learning, and creating.
By mastering the four elements, you can change ones life. You can always improve, grow, and extract more out of your knowledge, yourself and the way you live your life. Change is the universal constant that allows you to get the most of living and learning.
During coaching session:
- Learning and session take-away.
- What value did you receive from the session today?
- What are you taking away from each session?
- Do you have any feedback for your coach on what worked in this session?
- Follow up time or means for follow up (email etc.). This is about establishing accountability.
- May I offer any further support around this matter?
- I'd like to request that you send me an email next week to let me know your progress on this.
Earth is grounding where the coach grounding the client to determine their goal or issue they want to achieve in the coaching session. The coach needs the client to understand and develop a deep understanding on their goal or issue.
Fire is the learning where you need Air is questioning element. Air element will support Fire in the learning of the goal or issue. Fire is like an excitement or commitment of the client-learning journey on their goal or issue and the coach is the Air element asking Powerful question to support the client-learning journey.
When the client has finished their learning journey we will move into Water element, the coach will need to have work with the client to develop their own plan for their goal or issue with commitment.
The Yin Yang element is the Quintessential Presence for the Client. The GPS in you is the Yin Yang that steer you to your destiny. As your Coach, we are like your satellite to support your GPS toward your destiny.
What are you waiting for? On your GPS!