Are you confident enough to have your thinking challenged?

It is essential for many of us to ask questions of others in order to work effectively.

Questioning is a skill vital to business and life. So why is it that some people can ask you questions and you can answer freely and others make you feel under pressure or that you have done something wrong before you have even answered?

If you want to create a group that’s able to challenge each other in a productive and effective way. A good place to start is developing your own ability to be challenged, to ask questions of yourself and understand your own thinking process.

Once you have mastered this you are in a position to teach and demonstrate how to ask questions with respect to others in confidence you won’t mind them asking questions of you. The art of great questioning is knowing how to honour at all times the information shared and the impact that information has on others.

The Paralympics are a great example of how  we can really get behind an individual when we have greater understanding in how they ‘can’ work. Look at the great things that have happened. Questioning is the only effective way to really understand another and yet most either hate being asked or asking questions.

Without this information and understanding imagine the impact on your business.

For many of the events it would be easy to assume so much, whereas with additional information you are able to really get behind the athletes and let go of what they can’t do and notice, applaud, celebrate and encourage what they can do.

For your team right now many, if not all of your team members have their own pre determined idea of the rules of a team. When someone does not keep to ‘their’ rules it can be very confusing and people are often fearful to challenge the situation. It is no surprise that the one thing that ALWAYS  holds a team back is communication and a lack of understanding.

Imagine watching a swimming event without knowing:

1. It was the Paralympics

2. Their ability/disability.

What happens to you when they jump in or start from the side when the expectation is for them to dive in?

How much of your thinking time is wasted thinking or even shouting “what are they up to?” How much of the race do you miss or not notice their technique or style because you are still baffled why they didn’t dive in?

This is often what it is like in a business group, you have your expectations of other human beings and yet we all have our abilities, our disabilities and our own unique way of thinking.

Imagine if your whole team knew just 19 questions and a few simple principles that could result in them being okay challenging what is happening to gain greater understanding and to be okay with being asked questions so others could understand them.

Imagine if that same group could take responsibility for how they learned and how they gave and received feedback.

As the leader I imagine it would be pretty useful if you could create a group discussion where everyone can be curious about each other and ask questions without an individual feeling interrogated or persecuted. A group where everyone had respect and asked to learn and develop better relationships not to ‘prove’ anything. A group where everyone contributed and there was no specific ‘controller’. Everyone is actively involved in the process.

Before this can happen ask yourself:

What happens to you when you are asked questions?

Do you feel challenged, undermined or intimidated?

Do you relish the thought of having your thinking patterns challenged?

It is very likely that your team will be made up of both kinds of responses and possibly others we have not mentioned.

How to lead a team effectively?

In my experience it is important first and foremost that you are prepared to be asked thought provoking questions that make you break down, your own processes so that you fully understand why and how you do things. When you have this insight not only can you enhance and improve your own process you can explain to others what is happening.

Right now what is happening is others are interpreting your language, your nose scrunches, your smiles, in a manor of ways and will you have no idea exactly what they think you meant.

You too will be reacting to their signals a good example is:

Folded arms are often assumed to mean they are being defensive when in fact it might be because the office is cold or it is the best way to support a weak back perhaps. It is knowing how to ask a question of the posture to gain the clarity in a way that enables that person to still be okay with being themselves and knowing the impact of their posture on you. Of course you are both responsible for your own reactions etc. but right now are you even aware it is happening?

We see it all the time. My own big learning curve is that I discovered that when I spoke I would scan a room and if someone scrunched their nose at something I said, I assumed that I had offended them and would change tact or more often or not try to justify what I had just said. What a waste of energy if the person simply had a bit of wind at the same time I spoke or simply a particular word I was using was something that annoyed them or grated on them from their past.

Recognise your learning

What do you know NOW as a result of reading this, that perhaps you did not know before? if anything?

What difference does knowing that make, if any?

Plan your next best step

What would you like to have happen next?

Can you?

Please share your comments below, we love to listen.

Thanks for listening,


If you would like to know how to create groups that speak to each other openly we have an introduction session and a one day taster please do check them out.

If you would like to have your thinking challenged we have Power Group Days in Hampshire and Birmingham in Sept. For more information click here


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