By Lindsay Tighe from Empowered Conversations
Truly empowering others reaps enormous benefits. Not only do we engender more positive feelings in people, we enable better answers than our own to be found, which leads to higher levels of engagement and motivation. Clearly this will undoubtedly lead to better results.
Whilst most people inherently appreciate this, in practice we seem to have unconscious habits of actually disempowering people, without realising this is what we are doing.
Most of us have been programed to believe that being helpful means we fix things for others, without ever recognising that they are probably capable of fixing it themselves, if we use the right approach.
Ask better questions
My passion is to share one of the most simple, yet profound and highly effective ways of enabling true empowerment which is to ask, what I call, better questions.
Over the years I have come to realise that we are natural fixers and advice givers; it is role modelled to us everywhere we go, but rarely do I find people that are consciously using questions as a fabulous tool to enable others.
Maybe this is because, generally speaking, people do not appreciate questions. They are perceived as simply sentences with question marks at the end and if I am being honest, that was my view 20 years ago.
Now you cannot shut me up talking about questions! Questions are amazingly powerful at enabling better outcomes as they allow: creativity, confidence, capability, engagement, motivation, resourcefulness, positive feelings, better answers and utilisation of innate potential.
When you ask people questions it enables them to think and when they think they are not only tapping into their innate wisdom, they will also feel better as they have generated their own ideas instead of being reliant on others.
Over time this inevitably enhances peoples abilities leading to higher levels of resilience and self-reliance.
Sadly, it appears to me that there are some people, particular those in authority who are addicted to power and control, who are against promoting self-reliance, but those that truly care about people and fulfilment of their potential will absolutely embrace this simple concept.
So, if you are one of those people who wants to enable others to shine and be the best that they can be, you will be keen to learn more about questions. Ideally, we should be asking as many open ended questions as possible, as clearly these will enable more expansive thinking and answers.
With this in mind I’d now like to introduce you to a powerful framework of good questions that is very practical and easy to understand. In essence the IASKU model is a five-step problem solving model using powerful questions to enable better outcomes:
I – ISSUE Ask questions to help the person articulate their issue or problem
A – ACHIEVE Ask questions to help the person articulate what they want to achieve
S – SOLUTIONS Ask questions to help the person generate ideas and solutions to their issue
K – KNOW Ask questions to help the person say what they now know to be the best option to progress
U – UNDERTAKE Ask questions to help the person undertake action to achieve their ideal solution
Some examples of questions you can use in each step:
Questions to enable the person to understand more about the issue or problem.
- What is the real issue or problem?
- What is happening now that you don’t want?
- Tell me more about the situation
Questions to enable the person to articulate what they want to achieve.
- What do you want? What would you like to change?
- What is the ideal outcome you would like?
Questions that empower the person to think about solutions, ideas and possibilities.
- What ideas do you have to move forward with this? What else can you do?
- What is a first step that you can take to move forward?
Questions that help the person to make a decision and know what to do.
- Of all the ideas we discussed what do you know is the best one that will work for you? (If unsure get them to work through the ideas to ‘test’ them out)
Questions that help the person to undertake action and be accountable.
- What actions will you commit to?
- What are the timeframes for these actions?
- When should we check in to see how you are progressing?
Of course, you are welcome to embellish the framework by adding in more questions, changing the words and ensuring that the right amount of paraphrasing, ‘um’s’ and ‘oh’s’ are added in so that the conversation doesn’t feel stilted! In addition, you also need to remember that the clue to the next best question is in the answer they just gave you and you must bring your best level of listening to the conversation.
I encourage you to give this a try and see how you go! As with most new things, it feels awkward at first but as we build the muscle of asking better questions there is no doubt that you will be truly empowering others and enabling better outcomes in all contexts!