In Art of Hosting, developing powerful questions is a crucial element to creating the conversational space we are seeking. Sometimes a question can change our lives by creating the conditions to alter our worldview.
Kathy Jourdain, Art of Hosting practitioner says there are three dimensions to questions to pay attention to: scope or scale of the questions, assumptions in the questions and construction of the questions: What is the scope of the question you want to ask? If the scope is too big it may shut down conversation (how do we create world peace?) but you might want your question inspirational enough to allow people to gaze higher than they might otherwise (how have you created peaceful moments for yourself/your team/work/family? How could you do that more often or in a different setting?)
People tend to rise to the assumptions made in the questions so it is good to both notice the assumptions being made in the question and also to be intentional about them so the work is more appreciative and aspirational in service of purpose and intention and the greater work being tended to. In considering how we construct questions, there is a continuum that flows from less powerful to more powerful. The less powerful questions are ones that can be answered with a yes or no. Moving along the continuum, more powerful questions begin with when or who.
The next level are questions that begin with how or what and even more powerful questions sometimes begin with why. I say sometimes, because sometimes the why questions also entrench people in their point of view if asked in such a way they invoke defensiveness. Ask why questions in ways they evoke curiosity and then you’re onto something. There is a timeliness we generate when we put the word “now” in our question. “What you noticing now?” “What has your attention now?”