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Three questions to ask to move toward action

Two people having a conversation and asking each other questions.

Questions can be such a valuable way to invite people to explore ideas and perspectives that I now think of them as power tools for leading and engagement.  

My curiosity has led me to explore how questions work when we communicate. Ever notice how questions that go beyond a yes or no response really make a conversation pop? Or what it’s like when someone asks a question that really gets you thinking? It’s the ways questions invite us to connect, reflect, and act together that make them key tools for everyone who wants to lead and engage others effectively.

So how can we use questions more effectively? I’ve learned a number of great question methods and find that many establish a pattern that guides the conversation in strategic ways.  One of the handiest is the “What? So What? Now What?” approach shared by Dorothy Strachan in her excellent resource Making Questions Work: A Guide to How and What to Ask for Facilitators, Consultants, Managers, Coaches, and Educators. It’s easy to remember and offers a skillful way to keep a group on track and moving toward action. 

Watch the below video to get the basics.

Now visit the What? So what? Now what? tip sheet (PDF format).  Use it in your next conversation or even as you think through ideas you have for your own life.

With practice, the "What? So What? Now What?" approach can become one of your go-to power tools for conversations that move from invitation to exploration to action.  Now, what do you want to do with that?

Author: Lisa Hinz, Extension educator, leadership and civic engagement

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