The power of questions

As a mentor sometimes you offer suggestions, and local/current reps also might issue instructions to your mentee. But the most powerful process in mentoring is non-directive: it is based on asking excellent questions – especially when there is a Gordian Knot of a predicament that cannot be untied, and so must be cut instead.

Here are some ways to explore issues from new and productive angles:

Perspective: from … Example of questions
Afar Is this the right issue to be addressing?
Above (Super-Ego) How would you explain this to a person strongly affected by your decision?
Left (logic) What does your head tell you?
Right (emotion) What does your heart tell you?
Behind (the past) Which route is most consistent with your life/values/success formula so far?
In front (the future) How does this fit with your picture of where you want your community to be?
Below (fears) Are you operating out of fear; is this good?
(Imagined) retrospect Imagine you have already chosen the course of action – now tell me why you chose it?
Someone else’s point of view How would he/she/your community etc react? [or want you to react?]

Other powerful questions examples

  1. What do you want?
  2. What’s holding you back?
  3. What is it costing you to continue holding back?
  4. How do you want to change your mind’s programming on that topic?
  5. What new habits will you put in place to fortify your new mindset?
  6. What is the most meaningful action you could take now?
  7. What new skills or support from the community will ensure your success?

Anatomy of a Powerful Question

All powerful questions:

  • Come from a place of genuine curiosity.
  • Are direct, simple and usually open-ended.
  • Generate creative thinking and surface underlying information.
  • Encourage self reflection.


Credit: material is adapted from here.

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