A question on question 

New learning experience last month.   First, I acted a coach (for teams and individuals) in a CEIBS executive education program in Shanghai.     I learnt a great deal from the professors, the fellow coaches and the participants.   On the other hand, I did a group coaching session with a small group in Zurich. It is humbling to learn of the challenges faced by the business people in this part of the world.   Lastly, I ran a facilitation skills workshop with a few inhouse facilitators in Hong Kong – a start to their learning journey.

There are a lot of learning from these experiences.   Let me reflect on some.

A question emerged from a coaching conversation with a participant.   She was facing an issue which she already has a lot of data e.g. her own feeling and observation, others’ advices, numbers.   In fact, I sensed that the abundance of data was keeping her from making her decision. She was worried and puzzled. Our conversation led me to ask the following question, which apparently helped her:

‘What is THE one question, if get answered, will relieve you from feeling puzzled?   Take your time and write down your question.   Feel free to write as many as possbile first and then choose / craft into ONE question.’

I do not invent this question totally.   In fact, I was kindly challenged with a similar question when I was puzzled on whether to move to Switzerland.   What I learn now is that such a question is particularly useful when the coachee already has a lot of data.   Moreover, it is important to give time for him or her to really craft the question in writing.   The quiet time spent helps clarify what he or she really wants.

I exchanged the above thought with a friend and received the following challenge – ‘Are we then finding a question to fit the answer we want?’   What he meant is that e.g. if I tend to take up the Switzerland adventure, the above approach is about finding a question which supports the move.   He challenged that such approach is not rational and objective.   Well, my response was – ‘It does not matter. Making a decision, especially the major ones in life, is largely an irrational act after all.   Like getting married or buying an apartment. It is particularly ‘OK’ if one has thought through the pros and cons already.   The key is in fact about helping one to tap into his or her irrational side.’

What do you think?

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