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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Isolating Skills: Posing Questions

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


April 28, 2014

This month will support you in developing skill in the tools of Cognitive CoachingSM. We suggest that the best way to begin if you are new to this work is to isolate one skill rather than to try to do everything at once. Each week this month we will offer suggestions on one skill that will allow you to focus and practice that skill.

As we train cognitive coaches, one of the most frequent challenges for new coaches is the transition from asking closed questions to asking ones that are open-ended. When we ask a yes or no question, little thinking occurs. Most good coaching questions begin with the interrogative of “what” or “how.” When we begin with these words, the questions are generally open. When we begin a question with a verb, it usually closes the question. Notice the difference below:

Do you have some ideas about how to address this concern?

What might be some thoughts about how to address this concern?

As you practice asking open questions this week, also remember the other elements of the invitation – approachable voice, plural forms, tentative language and positive presuppositions. Sometimes, new coaches find that writing out a few good questions before a meeting assists them in using the best possible ways to invite thinking.

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