How to Ask Better Questions

Strategic Questions

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reasons for existing.
— Albert Einstein


Unlocking the Power of Questions

The questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis could very well be the most critical and important factors that determine our ongoing success, happiness and fulfillment in life. In fact, the questions that we persistently dwell upon influence our thoughts, habits, decisions and actions in insurmountable ways that go beyond our conscious levels of understanding.

Because our questions are so tightly bound to our physical realities, they can almost instantly transform and take our lives from one end of the spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye.

  • How is it that seemingly insurmountable problems are suddenly overcome?
  • How is it that one person eases through their problems, while another person experiencing the same challenges cannot seem to make any progress?

Yes, questions are mysterious blessings, yet at the same time they can be deadly precursors to a life of misery and heartache.

Today’s article will help unlock some of the fundamental keys of questioning that can dramatically transform your life for the better.

Our first objective is to gain an overview of the questioning process, it’s purpose, benefits and outcomes as they relate to life. Our second objective is to break down the two habitual questioning patterns that will either lead us to a life of fulfillment or a life of unrealized potential. Finally, we will finish off our discussion by taking a closer look at some effective questioning strategies that you can utilize immediately to help you overcome the obstacles and challenges standing between you and your goals.

This article post is part of the Effective Thinking series of IQ Matrix maps that are designed to help you successfully deal with the problems and challenges confronting your reality. Topics within this series include:

• Part 1: Strategic Questions
• Part 2: Creative Thinking
• Part 3: Problem Solving
• Part 4: Critical Thinking
• Part 5: Six Thinking Hats


Benefits and Purpose of Inspired Questions

Our questions could very well be the most powerful, motivating and equally de-motivating factors influencing our daily decisions and actions. In fact their influence over our lives is so profound that our entire thought process is completely and consistently absorbed and overwhelmed with the habit of asking and answering repetitive questions.

If you simply take a moment to reflect on the above statement, you will come to the realization that the vast majority of your day is actually spent on the process of asking questions. Whether this involves asking yourself what you will eat for lunch, what time you should get out of bed, what you must or mustn’t tell your boss, or why you are suddenly feeling like a stale old fish. It just seems as though the questions just keep rolling through our heads like clouds floating in the sky. All of this just makes you think:

“If I am continuously asking questions all day long, everyday of my life, could it just be remotely possible that where I am in my life at this very moment, is somewhat a direct reflection of the questions I have asked myself over a lifetime of thinking?”

Within this section we will delve into the intrinsic purpose of our habitual questioning strategies. We will explore not only the extraordinary impact of our questions, but also identify how they influence our lives from every angle and perspective.

Let’s get started by taking a look at the actual purpose of our questions and delving into the intricacies of their life transforming properties.


The Purpose of Strategically Inspired Questions

Our questions are far more than just a few words jumbled together with a question mark at the end. They in fact have a deep and meaningful purpose that helps to alter our psychology and life in a number of seemingly small and insignificant ways.

It is only once we are able to understand and acknowledge their purpose, that we are finally able to take advantage of the opportunities that they present us with.

Helps Alter Perspective and Life Experience

Our questions help alter the perspective of the world around us. These questions essentially color how we view ourselves, others, objects, events and circumstances in ways that help us to see things in a new light and from a unique and different angle.

If you ask resourceful, optimistic and solution focused questions, they will expand your perspective and awareness of the possibilities that are available to you at any given moment in time. On the other hand, if you ask questions that are focused on problems and things that you do not want in your life, then they will likewise present you with more of what you are asking for: problems, headaches, ongoing stress and anguish.

  • Turn On Your Question Barometer: If you find that your perspective of the world is suddenly being limited or constricted in any way, then immediately angle and phrase your questions by using methods that will help you to expand your perspective about yourself, others and the circumstances of your life. This will likewise help you identify a greater array of opportunities that can move your life forward in immeasurable ways.

Helps Alter Emotional State

The questions we ask are intrinsically connected to the emotions that we experience on an ongoing basis throughout our day.

If your questions are unresourceful and focused on problems, then this will put you into a negative frame-of-mind, which will likewise lead to emotions of stress, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration and more.

On the other hand, if you focus on questions that allow you to expand the possibilities of your current predicament, then you will find that your emotions will tend to expand in positive ways into the realm of curiosity, excitement, enthusiasm, and intrigue.

  • Turn On Your Question Barometer: Keep a psychological check on the impact that your daily questioning habits have on your emotional states. If you feel as though you have suddenly hit an emotional brick wall, immediately stop yourself and ask a new set of questions that will instantly trigger positive emotions.

Helps Alter Physiological State

Our emotional states are intrinsically connected to our physiological bodies. This means that if you ask unresourceful questions focused on problems, you will essentially experience a change in your physiology that will likewise trigger negative emotions of an unresourceful nature.

On the other hand, questions that are angled towards solutions and potential opportunities will put your body into a resourceful state — providing you with the emotional strength you need to move through the obstacles and challenges currently standing in your way.

  • Turn On Your Question Barometer: Keep a check on your physiology as you move through your day. The moment you notice your physiology sink into a unresourceful state, immediately ask solution focused questions that will help you to break out of this slump.

Helps Alter What we Focus On

Many people have an unconscious habit of asking questions about things that they don’t want in their lives. Because they persistently ask these types questions, this naturally focuses their mind on unwanted objects, people, circumstances and events. They simply don’t understand that the persistent questions they ask, focus and direct their mind on the things they ask about.

On the other hand, if we develop the habit of only asking questions about the things we want in our lives, such as the emotions we want to feel, things we want to experience and solutions we want to implement, then we will likewise experience that reality.

  • Turn On Your Question Barometer: The moment you catch yourself focusing on the things that you do not want in your life, immediately ask a different question that will help you direct your mind on the things that you do want to have and experience within your reality.

Helps Alter What We Consciously Delete

By asking a certain type of question, we effectively delete anything within the external environment that is not consistent with the answers we seek. This means, that if you ask a question that’s focused on exacerbating a problem, then as a result, it is very likely that you will be completely blinded to the solutions that are seemingly within your reach.

Your brain will naturally filter-out everything that does not correspond to your current beliefs, values, goals and objectives. And it is the questions you ask that determine what gets filtered-out or filtered-in to your perspective of reality.

If you ask solution focused questions, this will likewise filter-out everything from your experience that would exacerbate the problem.

  • Turn On Your Question Barometer: The moment you catch yourself focusing on a problem that just seems to be expanding and growing within your reality, immediately stop yourself and turn your focus and attention on the solution. Ask better and more insightful questions that only focus on the solution to this problem. The more attention you give to finding a solution, the greater amount of resources you will draw from yourself and the external world to successfully find the answers you are searching for.

Strengthens Weak Belief Systems

Our belief systems are very important in terms of helping us make insightful decisions that lead to decisive action. However, if you are finding that your decisions and actions are somewhat hesitant in nature, then it could very well signify a set of weak belief systems that are currently directing your behavior.

One of the best ways to strengthen weak belief systems is to ask a set of effective questions that will bring about a wave of new confidence.

Your beliefs are weak because they have very few resources and references tied to them. Questions will help you to strengthen these references and attract the resources you need to turn your weak beliefs into empowering action oriented convictions.


The Quality of the Questions You Ask is Critical

The quality of the questions we consistently ask on a daily basis has an incredibly profound impact on our lives. In fact, where we are in our lives at this very moment, is very much a direct reflection of the questions we have habitually and unconsciously asked ourselves over time.

If you are not happy or fulfilled with one or more areas of your life, then it could very well result from a limiting set of questions that you have been asking yourself over the past few weeks, months, years or decades that have shapes your current life circumstances.

The first key here is to acknowledge your current life predicament and identify the habitual unconscious questions that have brought you to this point in your life.

The second key requires that you develop a set of empowering questions that you will introduce into your life from this day forward.

Let’s take a closer look at the profound impact that daily habitual questions have on our lives:

Determines What We Gain Access to

Because our questions help expand our awareness and understanding of ourselves and the world around us, they also effectively help us gain a unique perspective about objects, people and the circumstances that are currently confronting our reality. Through this perspective and awareness we are better able to pinpoint and recognize the opportunities and resources that we will need to help us move forward in our lives.

All this goes to show that if you ask the right questions, you will gain access to these opportunities and resources. If on the other hand you neglect to ask an effective set of questions, then you will simply fail to recognize the resources and opportunities that can help you overcome the problems and challenges confronting your life.

Shapes Our Ability and Potential

The habitual questions you ask yourself on a daily basis shape your intelligence, creativity, ability to solve problems and reach your full potential as a productive human being.

The more effective you become at asking consistent high quality questions that are focused on solutions and expanding possibilities, then the more of your potential you will effectively tap into, and the greater success you will experience in any field of endeavor.

If you feel that for some reason you are not living out your true potential, then it could very signify that you need to alter the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.

Determines Our Ongoing Happiness

Because the questions we ask ourselves can effectively alter our emotional states, it just makes sense that our ongoing happiness is therefore intrinsically intertwined with the habitual questions we choose to ask ourselves on a daily basis.

If you are not happy with any aspect of your life, then decide today to transform the questions you are persistently asking. Focus your questions on things that you want in your life, rather than things that bring you sadness, stress and anguish.

Determines Our Overall Success

Given everything that we have discussed thus far, it makes perfect sense that the quality of questions we persistently ask throughout our lives determines our success in life, love, career, school as well as the level of income we currently have. It therefore could be argued that the quality of our questions determines the quality of our life.


Strengthening and Weakening Question Types

There are essentially two types of questions that we can choose to ask ourselves on a daily basis.

The first category of questions weaken our ability to think effectively, and thereby tend to close the doors to opportunity, while at the same time making us feel inadequate and incapable as we lose ourselves within a myriad of excuses and complaints.

The second category of questions help to strengthen our resolve, willpower and persistent nature, thereby opening doors to a myriad of new opportunities and avenues for growth and development.

Each of these two question categories is positioned on opposite ends of the spectrum. This is important to understand, because where you decide to plant your thoughts along this spectrum, will essentially determine what you have, what you will accomplish, experience, feel, and how you will essentially live out the remainder of your life.

Let’s now take a deeper look at the two questioning categories and break down the dramatic psychological impact that they can have on how we think, act and behave.


Weakening Questions: Why?

Why questions are questions that make us feel sorry for ourselves, our predicament and circumstances. They are questions that seek sympathy from others because they come from a state of hope and weakness.

Why questions tend to bring about unending sorrow and misery that locks the mind away into a state of chaos that has very little structure and form.

Under no circumstances should you ever partake in the habit of asking useless why questions that will break your spirit and paralyze your motivations.

Here are some why question examples you must avoid at all costs, however before reading them, it’s important to understand that you will always find answers to the questions you consistently and persistently ask yourself on a daily basis.

Why does life always seem to be working against me?

Why do I have such rotten luck?

Why should I even try?

Why am I so inadequate and incapable?

Why does this always happen to me?

Why does my life suck so much?

Why do I always do dumb things?

Why Questions are Loop Questions

They are known as loop questions because they tend to wrap us within a cycle of excuses, blame and problems that never seems to end.

It just makes sense, that when we are constantly focused on the things that we do not want in our lives, that these things will just tend to grow and expand within our physical reality.

Why Questions lead to Blame

Asking too many why questions will naturally lead to blaming of self, others, objects, events and the circumstances within one’s life.

When we sink into the habit of blame, we become very unproductive and unresourceful, and this tends to lead to an ever expanding cycle of blame that destroys our emotional lives.

Why Questions lead to Limitations

Because why questions cause us to feel sorry for ourselves, it’s just natural for this type of behavior to limit access to the opportunities, support and resources that are available to us.

Have another read through the why questions presented above, and ask yourself whether a person using this type of language has any hope of ever taking advantage of any opportunities, support and resources while they maintain this state-of-mind.

Why Questions lead to Problems

Why questions are specifically focused on the things that we do not want in our lives. These things are effectively labeled as problems that stand in our way towards achieving the happiness we desire to experience in our lives.

The more why questions we ask, the deeper we sink into the mentality of focusing on the potential problems that have a tendency to overwhelm and spin us out of our control.

Why Questions lead to Excuses

The deeper we sink into the intricacies of our life’s problems, the more reasons and excuses we find for our predicaments.

It is important to understand that our excuses are not solutions, they are rather rationalizations that make us feel better about the problems we are currently experiencing.

In many instances our excuses can actually make us feel better, and therefore help us to effectively live in harmony with our problems for short sporadic periods of time. However, over the long haul, excuses build up and give birth to regrets, which can easily turn to anger and deep states of depression.

Why Questions lead to Doubt

Asking why questions creates self-doubt about our ability, intelligence, creativity, skills, etc. And the more doubt we manifest, the more why questions we tend to ask in order to try and rationalize these feelings of uncertainty that live in the pit of our stomachs.

Doubt is a sabotaging force that can trigger many unresourceful emotions that will keep you within a powerless hesitant state where nothing ever gets accomplished.

Avoid self-doubt at all costs by minimizing the whys in your life.


Strengthening Questions: How? What?

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the how and what questioning process that will help us to overcome any obstacle and challenge that confronts us.

These types of questions will bring forth a psychological perspective that will help you to break down the barriers that are standing between you and your objectives.

These questions are also known as strengthening questions because of their ability to expand our thinking, awareness and strength of character.

How Question Examples

Here are some how question examples you can use to help you overcome the obstacles and challenges standing in your way:

How can I do this smarter?

How can I make this better?

How can I successfully overcome this?

How can I think outside the box here?

How can I make this mine despite the odds?

What Question Examples

Here are some what question examples you can use to help you overcome the obstacles and challenges standing in your way:

What can I do to turn this around?

What is the hidden opportunity here that I am not seeing?

What is great about this situation that I hadn’t noticed?

What is the best solution here?

What is it about this that can make me stronger?

Help You Focus on Solutions

Because of their very nature, how and what questions naturally focus our minds on problem solving thinking strategies that help to expand the possibilities and find solutions to the challenges that are currently confronting our lives.

To help you with this, always direct your mind on what you want, and ask effective questions that will help you find solutions to your problems.

Help You Focus on Goals and Objectives

Because these questions are focused on solutions, they will therefore help you to focus and direct your thoughts towards the goals and objectives you are seeking to obtain.

To help you with this, you must persistently direct your mind on asking questions that will focus you on a myriad of methods and strategies you can utilize to assist you with achieving your goals.

Help You Expand Creativity

Creativity comes through the process of asking solution focused questions, that expand our perspective and awareness about a specific problem or challenge that is confronting us.

To help you with this, always begin by thinking outside the box, looking at unorthodox strategies and methods that might seem somewhat unnatural or bizarre.

Once you have crystallized an idea, ask of it as many how and what questions that will help you to expand it’s possibilities into seemingly unexpected directions.

Help Move You to Action

What and how questions help to expand our thinking by focusing us on the outcomes and results we would like to bring forth into our lives. This naturally stimulates and triggers a wave of positive emotions that lead to higher levels of motivation, which likewise inspires proactive action.

To help you with this, constantly ask yourself questions focused on how you will feel once you have accomplished a task. Actually take time to physically acknowledge the benefits and perks that you will experience once your goals and objectives have been successfully attained.

It’s also helpful to ask yourself questions that will assist you with finding more enjoyment along your journey towards your desired outcomes.

Help Inspire Responsibility for Actions and Results

Because how and what questions are solution-based, they tend not to trigger the excuses, blame and doubt that typical why questions tend to do. As a result these types of questions will naturally bring forth a sense of responsibility and accountability for the actions you take and the decisions you make.

To help you with this, always focus your attention on asking questions that will help you find reasons how to make things work, despite the circumstances or the mistakes that might have been made.

Help Transform Limiting Habits

Our limiting unconscious habits can often sabotage our decisions and actions in unexpected ways.

The first step that will help us to overcome these habits lies in the process of awareness. We must become aware of these limiting habits first and foremost before we are able to successfully overcome and transform them.

When working through limiting habits, it’s important to reflect on the power of our questions, and on the ability they have to dramatically transform our patterns of behavior.

To help you with this, utilize what and how questions that are focused on solutions and possibilities that will help you to break out of the limiting patterns of behavior. The more effective solution-centered questions you ask of each limiting habit, the greater sense of confidence you will muster within yourself to successfully overcome this psychological roadblock.

Above all else it is important to understand that you must always be seeking answers, and not just fall into the habit of asking repetitive questions.

Help Expand Opportunities

Solution focused questions naturally help to expand the opportunities that are available to us at any given moment in time.

When you are asking questions that focus on breaking down the obstacles along your path, or curiously seeking to find solutions for unanswered questions, this will naturally open the doors to new insights, ideas and understandings that will help bring forth opportunities into your life that were simply not accessible before.

To help you with this, you must first come to the realization that no matter how grim the circumstances of your life may seem at this very moment, that you must never give up on the potential opportunities that might be out there.

Opportunities are often built upon one’s own perspective. What one person sees as an opportunity, another person sees as the end of the world.

Begin today by shifting your frame-of-mind in a way that will help you to ask better and higher quality questions, thusly expanding your current perspectives about the state of your reality.  


Overcoming Obstacles Using Questions

There is no doubt, that a strategic and purposeful use of questions can lead to great success, fulfillment and happiness. In fact questions are essentially the intellectual outcroppings of our thoughts that help us to break down problems and overcome some of life’s toughest challenges.

A question within itself is not creative in nature, it is rather used as a catalyst that helps stimulate creative thought — further enhancing our abilities to overcome the problems and setbacks that confront our daily realities.

Within this section we will delve into some simple, yet very effective questioning tactics we can utilize to overcome potential obstacles and challenges.

24/7 Solution Focused Questions

As you go about your daily activities it is important to keep your mind sharp, alert and focused on the solutions that could potentially help you to overcome the problems and pitfalls that life can throw your way.

To do this, you must zero-in on a set number of effective questions that will help stimulate creative thought, while expanding your problem solving skills and abilities.

There are literally dozens of questions that can be utilized here. However, for the purpose of this discussion, here are two very effective questions that will do the job just right:

What is great about this?

No matter how grim or dire the circumstances may at first appear to be, this question focuses your mind on the positive outcomes you are seeking to attain.

How can I best use this to my advantage? 

This question focuses your mind on the possible solutions while expanding your awareness of the potential opportunities that could be hiding around the corner. You are effectively brainstorming methods for turning lemons into lemonade.

The Question Process for Overcoming Every Obstacle

If you need a little extra leverage to help you overcome the obstacles in your life, then you might find it helpful to utilize the following four pronged question attack method for overcoming problems:

Possibility Question: What if I can make this work?” 

This question enhances confidence and expands your thinking, focus and awareness about the potential solutions that could help you overcome this problem.

Necessity Question: “What must I now do to make this happen?”

This question stimulates your creativity and problem solving ability to help you work through the possible solutions to your predicament.

Reducing Resistance Question: What do I choose to do?

Sometimes we tend to be somewhat reluctant to take the necessary steps that will bring our thoughts and ideas to fruition.

By deciding what you will choose to do, instead of what you must do, will help you to draw up a plan of action and possibly avoid the pitfalls of procrastination.

Mismatching Question: What if it doesn’t work?

The purpose of this question is twofold. First, it helps you identify and prepare for the possible challenges and setbacks that may lie along your journey. While at the same time, helping to expand the confidence and flexibility-of-thought you will need in order to overcome this challenge successfully.

Once you have moved through and answered the mismatch question, you would once again cycle through the four pronged question attack method until you are happy and confident that you can achieve your outcome.

Questioning Your Questions

If after undergoing the above two questioning tactics you are still unable to overcome your problems successfully, then you might like to try questioning your questions.

Sometimes we simply cannot find the right answers that will help us move past obstacles because we fail to ask the right questions in the first place.

If all else fails, work your way through the following set of questions:

Am I asking the right questions?

What’s the most useful question I can ask that will help me to overcome this problem successfully?

What’s the most useful question I can ask that will help me unlock new insights, ideas, solutions and opportunities that I am not seeing at this very moment?

The Process of Finding Insightful Answers

Knowing what questions to ask only takes you halfway. The second half of the process involves knowing how to find the answers that will bring forth effective solutions to your quality questions.

This process requires the following elements:

  • Emotional Intensity: The greater the commitment and emotional intensity behind the questions you ask, the more readily and quickly the answers will come.
  • Focus: The more you focus on and absorb your whole mind, body and spirit into the process of finding the answers you seek, the more readily and quickly the answers will come to you.
  • Expectancy: The greater the sense of expectation you create around your questions, the more readily and quickly the answers will come to you.
  • Awareness: Our answers come to us in many shapes and forms as we go about our daily activities. Many times these answers will be very obscure and may not immediately be evident at first glance. However, through closer inspection you may realize that the answer is far more obvious then you ever imagined. Hence, the more attention you give to the intricate dynamics of the world around you, the more readily and quickly the answers will come.
  • Persistence and Patience: In the end, it all comes down to persistence and patience. If you are persistent and determined to find an answer to the questions you ask, then they will eventually find you. Sometimes answers only come after a long period of patience and deep self-reflection when we learn to consciously let go of the question and direct our minds on other endeavors. And at other times all it takes is a little intuition.

Morning and Evening Daily Questions and Reflections

In order to keep ourselves focused and centered throughout our day, it is important to partake in periods of thought and self-reflection every morning and evening.

Periods of self-reflection should be utilized to help us ground ourselves, to learn from our experiences, and to focus our minds on the most important and pivotal areas of our lives.

Personally, I have utilized these questioning strategies for a number of years now. They help me in the morning to focus and direct my mind on what I want most, and later in the evening they assist me with the process of personal growth and reinvention.

The following set of questions are only examples that have worked for me. Feel free to remove, adjust or add your own as you see fit.

Morning Questions

Morning questions should be used for planning and thinking ahead.

Spend about 5 to 10 minutes in the morning consciously answering these set of questions. For best results, you should keep the answers to these questions at the forefront of your mind as you go about your daily activities. Finally, it’s important to be vividly specific with your answers. Don’t answer with fluff, but rather with specific substance that will help you to intentionally lay out the plans for your daily activities and patterns of thought and behavior.

What do I choose to do today?

What do I choose to become today?

What do I choose to have today?

What do I desire to happen today?

How do I intend to think and feel today?

How do I choose to serve others and provide value today?

How will I have fun and enjoy myself today?

Evening Questions

Evening questions should be used for self-reflection, gratitude and reinvention.

Again spend about 5 to 10 minutes (sometimes more may be required) to consciously reflect upon these questions. Your goal throughout this process must lead you to a psychological transformation that will help you grow and become a better person tomorrow than you were today.

What have I learned, and how have I grown today?

How has the world mirrored my inner patterns of thought and feeling?

What do I appreciate about today?

Why do I appreciate this?

How have I contributed today to others and the world around me?

What have I done today that has brought me closer towards attaining my goals and objectives?

Where does my life appear to be headed based on today’s events and circumstances?

Where does my life appear to be headed based on my current patterns of behavior?

How must I now reinvent myself in order to attract what I want most in my life?

What new questions do I now seek answers to?


Final Thoughts

How we question ourselves, others, circumstances and the world around us, is intrinsically connected to the experiences and emotions we tend to attract into our lives.

If we consciously take time to develop the habit of asking resourceful and solution focused questions on a daily basis, then this will enrich our lives in so many unexpected and seemingly unimagined ways. If on the other hand we neglect this responsibility and just settle upon a pattern of asking unresourceful problem-centered questions, then our lives will likewise be a reflection of this ineffective thought process.

In the end, the choice we make completely rests within our hands. And it is this choice that will determine the level of success, happiness and fulfillment we experience within our lives. So let’s be sure to choose wisely…

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have had success with using questions to help you overcome the obstacles and challenges in your life, than please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.


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Strategic Questions

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17 Responses to “How to Ask Better Questions”

  1. Robert A. Henru July 2, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Hi Adam, I’m honored to be included in the recommended list.
    Thanks a lot!
    Robert

  2. Ayrshire26 March 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    After reading through the section on “weaking why questions” it made me a little confused about if I should ask any why questions at all. Is there also “strengthing why questions” that instead of providing excuses provides answers/reasons that benefit investigation / exploration of problems?

    Thanks for the iqmatrixs and information

    • Adam Sicinski March 6, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      “Why” questions are normally asked using a negative context. When you use them to blame yourself; to feel sorry for yourself; to get sympathy from others, that is when they hurt us by directing our thoughts on problems and things we can’t control instead of solutions.

      Alternatively you can use “Why” questions in a positive context when you are looking for solutions. For instance you could ask:

      - Why is this happening?
      - What can I do about it?
      - How could I use this to my advantage?

      In this context the “Why” question laid down the foundations for the “What” and “How” question that followed.

      In another context you could ask:

      - Why is this happening?
      - Why does my luck never change?
      - Why do bad things always happen to me?

      In this scenario the “Why” question was used in a negative way that doesn’t lead to any concrete solutions. Instead it focuses you on the problem and on the things you don’t seem to be able to control.

      So by all means feel free to ask “Why” questions as long as they help you focus on solutions, not problems.

      For the purpose of this article I separated the questions into “How” and “Why” questions in order to simplify things.

      Finally, every “Why” question you ask can in fact be replaced with a “How”. For instance earlier I asked:

      - Why is this happening?

      Instead I could ask:

      - How is this happening?

      The “How” (even though a little unconventional) question immediately puts me into a “solution-focused” frame-of-mind. From there I can ask additional questions that will help me solve the problem I am facing:

      - What is interesting about this?
      - How is this important and relevant?
      - What can I learn from this?
      - How can I work my way through this problem quickly, effectively and efficiently?

      I hope this helps to explain the differences.

      • Ayrshire26 March 6, 2012 at 11:30 am #

        Hi Adam

        Thanks for the reply and clearing up my confusion for me.

        In a way why, how, what questions are just like tools, its the context in where you use them determines the outcome (negative or positive). Key being to use the questions with a solution focused mindset.

        Cheers,
        David 

        • Adam Sicinski March 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

          Absolutely. Very well put. Being “solution” focused is the key.

  3. John September 10, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I was absolutely delighted to read this and look forward to applying this in my life going forward.

  4. Jason April 16, 2013 at 5:05 am #

    You’re wrong about why questions. The way you put them down, yes, they are negative. The solution is simple: Ask an empowering ‘why’ question.

    “Why am I so successful?”
    “Why am I feeling so peaceful?”
    “Why is money flowing to me easily and effortlessly?”

    This way of using why questions presupposes that what you want or the circumstances are already true, thus yoru subconscious mind seeks out and/or creates reasons showing it to be true.

    This can also be used for another question type often used negatively: “What if”. People what if themselves to death.

    “What if I fail?”
    “What if she says no?”
    “What if I don’t get this promotion?”

    LIke with why questions, you ask ‘what if’ in a positive way:

    “What if this is the best time I ever have?”
    “What if I get the full six figure bonus?”
    “What if this will be my best day ever?”

    It is all in how you ask the question. Don’t take my word for it, experiment and see for yourself.

    • Adam Sicinski April 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you for your insightful comment.

      I absolutely agree with you. Everything comes back to the context with which you use these questions. I listed them in this way within this blog post because from my life coaching experience many of my clients used these WHY questions in a very negative and limiting way. However, they can also most certainly be used in empowering ways as you suggested.

      I appreciate the insights.

      Adam

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