On the 28th March Helen and I talked about Open-Honest questions
The broad purpose of a question is to gain information. But in western culture we often use questions in ways which are also sneakily giving information. Very often in our conversations we will ask questions we already know the answer to; or we will word questions in ways which lead the person we are in conversation with to answer in a certain way or to give the answer that we want or to think the thoughts that we want them to think.
There are times of course when these things are completely appropriate.
Open-Honest questions avoid these features of conversation.
Open-Honest questions are questions which create an invitational space for the person being asked the question to think more deeply about their topic – that’s the open bit; and they are questions which the asker cannot possibly know the answer to and contain no leading – that’s the honest bit.
When used with people about the happenings of their lives and their emotional responses to those happenings, and when followed with attentive, ‘present’ and non-judgmental listening, Open-Honest questions can be really helpful in supporting that person to gain new clarity. The beauty is that it is clarity they have gained from within. It is not advice imposed upon them.
Most people don’t really love having advice imposed upon them. Often we don’t love receiving advice even when we have asked for it. How many times have you asked for advice and when given it, gone away knowing that that advice is not right for you and that you won’t take it?
The clarity which we see for ourselves, we are more likely to engage with.
This is why Open-Honest questions followed by deep listening are a gift to one.
If you give this gift, you will deeply, gently support and honour the other person by doing so. If you receive this gift you will feel it as support and honour.
Open-Honest questions can deepen connection between people. There must be trust and non-judgment; and when so, there is also a place for vulnerability.
Open-Honest questions take many forms depending on the topic and the person, but mostly they are simple questions which go to the person as well as the situation. Here are some examples:
- What did you learn from that?
- What moves you about that?
- How is that working for you?
- What questions do you hold about this situation?
- What are you finding hardest/easiest?
- What hopes did you have?