Monday, April 2, 2012

Where are you on the Ask-Tell spectrum?

As children it seems that we can’t stop asking questions.
As adults it seems we can’t stop giving our opinions. see ;)

On the Ask-Tell (or Enquiry-Advocacy) spectrum, many leaders will do more of the latter than the former.  Indeed they are respected for their opinions and wisdom.  We want to hear from them.  We need to hear from them.  But sometimes this can get in the way of real discovery, learning and change.

When we reconnect with our desire to ask questions, something transformational happens.  As leaders on last week’s coaching programme realised, through the act of asking questions, we can help other’s draw on their own resourcefulness and sense of responsibility.  We can help them generate their own options and solutions, instead of ‘clipping their wings’ or creating a sense of dependency by confining them to our answer or view of the world.

Effective questioning as a result of deep listening and interest is at the core of coaching: it helps raise someone's self awareness and is fundamental to empowerment, creativity and performance.

It is also part of the simple beauty of engaging with another and the interactive conversational dance between human beings. 

Rudyard Kipling knew the power and magnificence of questions. As he wrote in The Elephant’s Child (1902), 

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Image source: much appreciation to Gareth for the cartoon.


  1. So true. Mental note to self: my children are my teachers. Have a wonderful day Princess. x

  2. 2 ears & 1 mouth for a reason! Another great reminder bella - & I'm a big fan of Rudyard Kipling & his (often unrecognised) wisdom too! Cx