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Change Your Questions, Change Your Life

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Have you ever read a book that truly transformed how you think, your approach to your work and life decisions?

In my life, I can count fewer than 10 that have had that kind of impact. The book, ChangeYour Questions, Change your Life by Marilee Adams, Ph.D. is at the top of my list. I first read it four years ago. To date, I have read it three times. It continues to reinforce how I ask questions and make decisions. It inspired me to ask better questions, be less judgmental (aka being “hijacked by Judger”) and totally re-framed my thought process during difficult situations and conversations. As a result I have produced much better outcomes as a leader and at home. The key comes from learning to ask better internal and thus external questions.

“A question can be an invitation, a request, or a missile. What impact do you want your questions to have?” -- Marilee Adams

When you consider the questions you ask, what are your motivations/intentions/assumptions when asking the questions? We ask questions with a positive approach or negative one. There is the “Judger” path or the “Learner” path also referred to as the “Judger Mindset” or “Learner Mindset” in the book.

As you read the following questions, take notice of your body. Do you notice any tension? Where? How do these questions make you feel?

  1. Who’s to blame for this?

  2. I know I am right. How can I prove it?

  3. Why is that person so clueless and so frustrating?

  4. Why do I bother, if nothing’s going to change?

Now, consider how you feel when reading these questions.

  1. What is working well? What’s possible?

  2. What am I responsible for?

  3. What can I learn from this conversation/situation?

  4. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?

Are You a "Judger?" Yes, but...

This is just a small example of how questions can make an impact. The first set is clearly on the “Judger” path. We all get on this path. We can’t help it. It’s part of being human – especially in times of conflict, crisis or stress. The goal is to get out of "Judger" quickly. The best way to do this is to learn to ask “Switching Questions.” They redirect your inner thoughts and lead you to the "Learner" path.

If you notice you are going down the “Judger” path consider these switching questions.

  1. Am I in Judger? - Notice/Create Awareness

  2. Is this working well?

  3. What do I want?

  4. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?

  5. What are the facts?

NOW, what is my choice?

YES – we have a choice! Click here to view a great real-life example shared by Marilee Adams.

Are you an Inquiring Leader?

Step onto the "Learner" path. It does take practice – but it’s so worth it!! If I could afford to buy this book for everyone I would…it’s that awesome. But, since money still doesn’t grow on trees I will highly recommend it!

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