7 Strategies to ask better Questions

7 Strategies to ask better questions

ask a question

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not love them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to love the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Can I help you? What can I do for you today? How are you feeling? How was your day dear? What’s up?

Simple, every day, numb questions put to you on an almost endless daily basis. What are the questions that really get your attention? HOW does a question get your attention? Is there such a thing as a safe question? Is there protocol when it comes to asking questions?

My life is questions. As a life coach my job is based on just the right question to ask of my client in order to create awareness, action, creativity, empowerment and outcome among other things. Questions can be intimidating all on their own but questions in a coaching session can be powerful and emotional and life changing. Questions from the client are also encouraged in a coaching session.

I was in the grocery store the other day and I ran into, literally, an acquaintance I had not seen in a few years. Our shopping carts hit one another. After the initial shock and  happy “AHA” recognition, we pulled to the side of the aisle and started chatting. You can always tell when someone needs to talk because their voice changes and they seem to own the conversation. In this case the person I was chatting with really did seem to need to unload a bit of her life story. I listened to every word with patience and interest. When she was winding down she looked at me and said how sorry she was for talking so much. She then asked me how I do it. How do I make it seem like she is the only thing that is important and let everything else fall away. Clearly I did not come to the grocery store knowing I would run into her and offer to hear her story, I had important things to do today. I could see that her question to me was hard for her to ask. As adults it seems that only when our emotions seem high or about to go overboard do we somehow muster the courage to ask a question.

I looked at her eyes and I said, “I know it must have been difficult to tell me this story but how do you feel having shared your story with me?” She said she felt relieved first to have been able to just talk to someone without the intrusion or intimidation of being peppered with questions but mostly she felt calmer overall. By the way, that is the essence of coaching; to create a safe, inviting space to talk and explore. Spaces can be created anywhere at any time.

Questions have a way of bringing out the best or the worst in us. People, adults mostly, are afraid to ask questions because they

1)      Fear looking stupid

2)      They fear making another person uncomfortable

3)      They fear the answer and don’t want to face any kind of truth, among other reasons.

What about young children? They ask an endless stream of questions every day and all day. No shame or hesitancy show up for them. They function on a need to know basis and they are relentless in getting their answers. Questions are a sign of an alert, curious, and growing mind. As adults our questions don’t stop coming they just get more strategic and purposeful. It is a human trait to question.

There are ways however, to ask questions that help you not only grow your curiosity but also encourage more bravery to ask more questions.  According to Wikihow.com there are 7 strategies you can use when wanting to ask a question and appear intelligent while asking:

1)      Start with something simple: Ex. ”How has all of this rain affected your garden this year?” It is direct, specific and simple to ask and answer.

2)      Questions should be knowledge gathering: Questions are not only about knowledge but also about action. Ex. “I have heard the media say that our crazy weather is due to global warming while others say it is nature’s own cycle of events. Which do you think it is?” This kind of question creates discussion, awareness, opinion without judgment and could possibly create ideas toward broader understanding and action toward a cause or event. At the very least it started a conversation and created a feeling of belonging.

3)      Never ask a question with aggression: This type of question gets people’s back up. It indicates you are right and they are wrong. You risk making yourself look argumentative and closed- minded. An example of a question with aggression starts with words like, IS IT TRUE or ISN’T IT A FACT THAT. Non aggressive questions sound like this: “Many people argue that more food would be available for everyone if society knew how to make better use of the food they buy instead of letting what they buy go bad. This argument seems to make some sense but do you know of any argument that takes an opposite view?

4)      Be clear about your ideas and thoughts: Help people be aware of your exact way of thinking and why you take that position. You can do this by stating who you are and your field of interest, research or study. Anything that you are passionate about qualifies here. You don’t have to be an expert to ask a question for better understanding.

5)      Be polite: Each of us has information that can help another person. Ask politely and openly and people will want to help.

6)      Show gratitude: Even if you do not get all the answers you are seeking show appreciation and gratitude for the time spent with you and your question(s).

7)      Never ask a question that you yourself are not willing to answer: Unless you are a lawyer required to push and push no matter how uncomfortable the other person is feeling it is rare that the average person will respond well to probing and grilling questions.

When my friend and I were ready to move on with our day and depart each other’s company she asked me if we could get together for coffee some time. I handed her my coaching card and said, “Yes, absolutely we can get together for coffee anytime, but I am getting the feeling that what you need is deeper than just a coffee conversation. I’m here for you as well whenever you want to go deeper and explore.”

In a coaching session questions help clients move toward their desired goal(s). Questioning is essential both from the coach and from the client. Safety, security, honesty, and integrity, are established in the space between the coach and the client. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful to know that you have the freedom to ask and explore your most intimate questions with a person who won’t judge, laugh, smirk, or betray your most vulnerable moments?

“Have you found someone to share your heart with? Are you giving to your community? Are you at peace with yourself? Are you trying to be as human as you can be? — Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

 

call to actionCall to action: In the comment section below this post write and tell me how you hold yourself back from asking questions.

*Image provided by Bing Images

Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. Please visit www.journeyoncoaching.com. or contact Lisa at lisa@journeyoncoaching.com. Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky, tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. All it takes is a spoonful of sugar and a desire to move forward passionately. If you would like to see how partnering in coaching can help create your best life so far please call or write to me and let’s start on that journey. Your personal discovery awaits….

 

5 Questions to help you Outline your Life Purpose

Does every person have a life purpose?

atseaorig

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt 

So, I’m sitting at my computer reading an article on-line about impossible dreams and how we should never give up on them. There is a list that goes along with the article and it outlines 9 impossible dreams. I have no patience for articles that don’t completely pertain to my life so I skimmed through the list and only read the ones that seemed to be important for what I have been thinking about lately.

The very first item on the dream list is the one that asks about the tiny little thing we were meant to do with our lives. This impossible dream is a doozy for me. I don’t know where you are at right now on your life journey but for me the question of what is my life purpose and what am I absolutely meant to do with my life is like looking straight up at Mount Everest. It feels insurmountable to me to tackle this question. I can’t seem to figure out what my whole life is meant to be about. Then it hit me like a punch in the gut:

What if the life purpose question, that which we were meant to do or become, was as simple as asking “What is my life purpose today?”; “What am I meant to do today?”

When I am coaching my clients I try to get a feel for how they each approach their lives. Do they tackle big projects full force, head on like a speeding train or do they take their projects step by step like we were taught to do when researching for a thesis paper or like when we were learning how to play a sport or how to play an instrument? It’s in these baby steps toward the larger outcome, goal, or the finished product that understanding blooms, curiosity grows, and I believe our purpose is found, in those micro moments.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love Mr. Emerson. He makes the task of being human so okay and allowable. His words give me permission to live my values today, to make a difference today like when I bake a batch of cookies for my husband’s co-workers. His words give me permission that just for today I lived and lived well because I chose to do so.

When I thought about the question I created, “What is my life purpose today” I felt an instant swell of relief surge through my body. Wait, you mean that I don’t have to take on the whole entirety of my life in one day and figure it all out before tomorrow comes around? You mean it is okay that I didn’t figure out my life purpose when I was in my twenties? Someone get me a big cushy chair because I need to sit down……

I think I can answer this question then. My life purpose TODAY is to get clear on what I want to write about today, my life purpose today is to love my family with all my heart through my actions even though I am filled with turmoil inside myself, my life purpose today is to vacuum the house because I like starting the weekend with clean floors, my life purpose today is to change the sheets on my bed so that tonight I can luxuriate and surround myself in the smell and feel of clean, fresh sheets while I read a romance novel and sip white wine. What is the domino effect of fulfilling my life purpose today and at the same time filling my soul with small steps of happiness?

In her book, “We the Living”, Ayn Rand writes about the concept of fulfillment by saying, “Well, I always know what I want. And when you know what you want you go toward it. Sometimes you go very fast and sometimes only an inch a year. Perhaps you feel happier when you go fast. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten the difference long ago, because it really doesn’t matter, so long as you move.” WHAHOO Ayn Rand!! Just journey on…..

I like this. I like the feeling inside of my heart that by making my life purpose all about the day I am living, about the moment I am in, the space I am occupying right this instant, that it really doesn’t matter how long it takes. After all, this is the only moment I know I have. I don’t know what kind of life lies ahead of me or who I will be if and when it comes around. I can take my life purpose today and build on it if I get a tomorrow but since I only have today then I want the purpose of today to be all that I choose to make of it.

Perhaps you are bold and daring and not cowed by the very scary, tall and monstrous mountain and you want to take your life purpose in bigger chunks.  Ask yourself:

What will your life purpose be this new week? This month?

How close do you want get to your goals?

What will you allow yourself to learn?

What will you allow yourself to see?

What will you allow yourself to do?

I feel like this goes much deeper than a simple to-do list. A to-do list has its place in our daily lives don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of to-do lists but those lists can sometimes feel sterile and monotonous; they just outline the surface items that must get done before the day is out, errands that must take place.

A “life purpose today list” is about what fills your soul, what demonstrates your values, what has deep meaning for you on a consistent basis because the actions describe who you are right this minute in time and minutes in time could take 10 years before you know you are ready to declare something new and valued about yourself.

Call to Action:

Take a few minutes, as precious as they are, and answer some of the 5 questions presented in this post.

You can journal about it, create conversation about it, draw or create a vision board about it. Let me know what you come up with. What amazing” life purpose today” thoughts did you discover? How did those thoughts become action steps and what was the effect it had on the world around you? I’d love to know. And as always and purposefully, Journey On……

Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. Please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. or contact Lisa at lisa@journeyoncoahing.com

 

Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. All it takes is a spoonful of sugar and a desire to move forward passionately. If you would like to see how partnering in coaching can help create your best life so far please call or write to me and let’s start on that journey. Your personal discovery awaits….

 

 

 

5 Reasons We Need Each Other….

capt underpants

Do we really need each other?

“Life is not a fist. Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it.” –Elie Wiesel

Some people might think that the answer to the question of “do we really need each other” has already been answered with the opening quote yet I’ll bet that some people will defend their stance on keeping their fists closed and close to their sides.

What does it mean to stand with an open hand and wait for another hand to enter it? The first word or feeling I come up with is vulnerability.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vulnerability as “being capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; open to moral attack or temptation.” I also hear the word weakness in this definition.

Dr. Brene` Brown is a vulnerability researcher. In her amazing, down to earth, no nonsense, authentic book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown says,

“The perception that vulnerability is weakness is the most widely accepted myth and the most dangerous. When we spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable, we let our fear and discomfort become judgment and criticism. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings.”

A lot of us tend to tie vulnerability to something dark like fear, shame, grief, disappointment. What if we did allow ourselves to feel all of those emotions in their proper place and space and time? Dr. Brown spent over a decade researching this question and more and she found that

“vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. It is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, accountability, and authenticity. Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.” – Maya Angelou

But why need each other? Why be so vulnerable in the presence of another person? For one thing it pushes each of us to become a better version of ourselves.

Here are a few thoughts on why needing each other is a great thing:

1- Community: It may take one person to come up with a plan or an idea but it will take many other people to help implement and bring that plan or idea to life. Each individual person does not have all of the answers. Even though answers to questions are easier to find these days through the internet we each have to realize that someone placed the information on the internet for us to find and someone else did a lot of work to create the answers we are seeking. Before you know it you have amassed a community or village of people to help you make your idea or plan take flight.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
Stephen R. Covey

2- Accountability: Just like a coach holds his/her players accountable to learn the sport they are playing and the position they are attending; just like a life coach holds his/her client accountable to the agenda being worked on so too do other people play important accountability roles in each of our lives and thank goodness they do. Think about any change you want to make in your life or any time you need to just get through a hard time and now think about the people who help you change or get through. With just the right question and just the right amount of care you know, in the end, you couldn’t have done it without the help from someone important in your life. A great example might be a surgeon or doctor that helps us get well when we need surgery or medical care right away.

“The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions, but in keeping each other accountable for our actions.”
A.J. Darkholme, Rise of the Morningstar

3 –Competition: A lot of people thrive on competition. Think of all those marathon runners each year that prepare and train and focus so intently on winning that long arduous foot race. Where is the glory of winning if we are only running against ourselves? Where is the fun in competition if we have no one that we want to compete against?

“Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?”
Ayn Rand

4- Achievement: You passed the hardest test ever! You climbed the highest mountain in the world! You won the Nobel prize for your research or publishing! You worked so unbelievably hard and you finally graduated with honors and a doctorate degree! Can you imagine feeling so incredibly great about your achievement and there is not one single person to celebrate with?

“there is nothing more beautiful in life
than celebrating the talents, dreams,
joys, and accomplishments of another being
to see – and call attention to – the best in someone else…”
Kate Mullane Robertson

5- Love: It is important to find reasons and completely believe those reasons to love ourselves first so that we can love other people. However, it is also important that someone love us first and teach us how to love in order for us to know what it feels like and how to give it to others. Without love where would we be as a species? Love does make the world go round.

“Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need. ”
Margaret Mead

One of the very first lessons I learned when I was going through my coach business training was that it will always be important to have my own coach, whether for something specific or in general. The importance of that being the fact that you immerse yourself in the language and processes of coaching and at the same time work through your own personal road blocks so that you can be what your clients need you to be with empathy, authenticity, experience and hope. There are coaches for just about any life situation. For example there are coaches for teenagers, coaches for executives, coaches for life in general, coaches for relationships, leadership, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, ADHD, etc. I have a coach for coaching itself and a writing coach for the book I am working on and I have a supervisory coach. I couldn’t have come so far in my coaching practice without the help, guidance and love of all those mentors, classmates and colleagues. All it took was courage and vulnerability to let the work I wanted to accomplish begin to work its magic.

So I am a life, career, heart, and soul coach. My deep satisfaction and purpose comes from being able to take the scattered puzzle pieces of the life’s journey you are on and help you put them together; help you create a life road map with places to stop along the way and appreciate all the splendor of all that you have already within you. To empower you toward whatever you set for your life purpose, passion and potential. What I ask of you is to be vulnerable with me, have courage to stare your life in the face and create what you want from it. Everyone needs a little help now and then. That’s what I’m  here for.

Why would you want to share those deep emotional parts of you and face the things you are most afraid of? Well, because that is what I ask of myself and so I have personally been where you are and can create a safe space for you to explore where you want to go; who you want to become. I need to go to those darker more vulnerable places too so that you know without a doubt that I am on your side, walking with you on your journey.

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” –Iyanla Vanzant

Our life experiences are not meant for only us. Our life experiences are meant to not only teach us something important but also to be shared so that someone else might learn as well. On your journey please know that I honor you in your pursuit of purpose and passion and personal growth. Your courage and vulnerability to share, stand and influence another person is a cause for celebration.

Call to Action

Who is most important in your life? Why?

If you allowed yourself to vulnerable with this person how might the relationship benefit?

At what times during  your life moments do you choose to hold back, stand alone, not need anyone?

When have you noticed that having someone on your side has helped you achieve in a big way?

If you would like to start creating your own road map toward your passions, if you would like help in sorting through your life’s puzzle pieces please email to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.