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During a training session that we delivered last month, we showed the delegates how changing the type of questions that they asked themselves and their teams can significantly change the way they think and work. This is especially in the longer term.

Finding the solutions to complex problems often take time and perseverance and many people find themselves trapped in a defeatist loop and are stuck with ineffective or inefficient solutions.

So how do we get out of this trap? There are a number of way. For instance, this excellent article by Michael Hyatt entitled “7 suggestions for asking more powerful questions2 provides some useful examples.


Here are 3 suggestion that we’ve picked out:

1. Ask open-ended questions

Instead of Yes/No questions, ask asking open-ended questions, like, “Why do you think you got the results you did?” and more effectively, move on to asking “How to do you think you can get better results?”

The first questions looks at the causes and the second questions focuses on the potential solutions and prevents you from just dwelling on the problems in a negative manner.

2. Get behind the assumptions

Ask yourself, “What are we assuming in this scenario?” If your argument is based on poor assumptions, you’ll end up with a faulty conclusion.

3. Understand the difference between facts and speculation

One of my former bosses once told me, “Make sure you tell me what you know and what you think you know, and make sure I know the difference.” People make all kinds of statements that they think are based on the facts. These should immediately cause your radar to go off. Often you will have to ask, “Do you know that to be a fact?” If so, “How do you know?” or “Can you provide me with the source for that statistic or claim?”