Framing Questions to Encourage Ideal Emotional Response

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As leaders, coaches, and parents, asking the right questions is not just about getting answers—it's about bringing out the right feelings in our conversations. To be good at communication, we need to be aware of how our questions shape discussions and affect the emotions of those we talk to.

What kind of feelings do your questions usually bring out?

Knowing how our questioning style impacts conversations can make a big difference. Here are 4 tips for asking questions that create positive emotions:

  1. Creating Curiosity Instead of Defense

People get defensive when questions feel like accusations or confrontations. Instead, ask questions that encourage exploring and thinking. For example, instead of asking "Why did you do it this way?", ask, "Can you explain your thinking here?"

  1. Promoting Engagement Over Withdrawal

To keep people from shutting down, ask inviting and inclusive questions. For example, saying "I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, can you share more?" keeps the conversation open and engaging.

  1. Simplifying to Avoid Overload

People freeze when they feel overwhelmed by complex questions or heavy emotions. Break down big questions into smaller, manageable parts. For example, ask, "What’s one part of this project that you feel good about?" This helps ease them into tougher topics.

  1. Framing for Freedom and Possibility

The best mindset to encourage is one of openness and possibility. Ask questions that recognize their skills and invite creative thinking. For example, say, "You’ve been successful with similar challenges; what approach would you suggest here?" This shows respect for their abilities and empowers them to think creatively.

Also, think about how you question yourself. Self-questioning affects your communication with others. Ask yourself, "What kinds of questions am I asking myself regularly? Are they helpful and solution-focused, or are they negative and critical?"

By getting good at asking the right questions, both to others and to yourself, you can create more positive and productive conversations.



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