This simple model will change the way you ask questions (and change your life)

A man asked a friend of his:

Can I smoke while I pray?

His friend said: I have no idea, why don’t you go and ask the priest?

So the man went to his priest and asked him the question:

Can I smoke while I pray?

And the priest answered: No, you can’t smoke while you pray, that’s disrespectful!

So the man left, and he thought about it. Then he talked to another friend about what happened. And that friend said:

You’re asking the wrong question! Choose a better question.

So the man went back to the priest and asked:

Can I pray while I’m smoking?

And the priest answered: Well absolutely, of course you can!

The Art of Asking Questions

Have you ever done something, and your mother/father/spouse/colleague asked the question:

Why did you do that?

How did you feel when they asked you that question? Did you get defensive?

I spent the earlier part of this week at Keller Williams’ Coaching Skills Camp, led by renowned business leader and coach, Dianna Kokoszka. And Dianna shared with us a simple formula to select and use questions.

Questions Pyramid

The square which encases the triangle represents the amount of energy that corresponds to the question. Clearly you can see that the amount of energy increases as we go from the bottom of the triangle to the top. How does this manifest? Let’s have a closer look.

Asking WHY

Dianna Kokoszka says that why is a dying question.

Asking someone (including yourself) why saps energy, because it takes us into the past. In my experience, asking a why question can take a person into defensiveness. And defensiveness, we know, does not help us grow – indeed it re-trenches us into the negative.

Consider these questions:

Why did you do that? 

Why is this happening to you?

Why is the world this way?

Pay attention to how these questions make you feel. In most cases, it’s not a great feeling.

Asking HOW

How is a surviving question. Asking how gives us a little bit of energy, yet it can also be overwhelming. Think about it:

How can I do this?

How can I improve?

How can I reach my goal?

How is okay, yet it may lack specificity. Let’s see if we can do better…

Asking WHAT

What is a thriving question. What moves us forward. Consider, for example:

What is my goal?

What is the biggest obstacle standing in-between my goal and me?

What can I do to move around that?

Asking WHO

Who is a flourishing question. Who opens up a vast sea of possibilities. What would happen in your life if you regularly asked questions like:

Who has done this thing before that I’m desiring to do? 

Who am I surrounding myself with?

Who can help me reach my goal?

Who will I choose to become?


Who would you become if you asked who and what questions every day?

Who would be affected?

What would that do for you?

What would that do for the people you care about?




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