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The Best Type of Questions to Ask Yourself and Your People

January 9, 2023

Blog Topic

We are hard-wired to answer questions, aren’t we?

However, some questions can send us to places we don’t want to go, whilst others are a joy to answer, capture our imagination and inspire us to be motivated.

I assert that there is a simple formula for asking the questions that we enjoy pondering and answering.

The Best Question Formula: FRONC

  1. Future-oriented – though effective reflection can be beneficial as well.
  2. Respectful
  3. Open
  4. Non-judgemental
  5. Curious

Here are some examples of such questions asked by a leader of a team member:

“Hi John, I wonder what might be the best way to move forward with this project, given your experience and insights? How could we make a difference and get it to the others by Friday?”

“Mary, if there was no possibility of failing, what would you recommend we do to shorten the time frame on this project?”

“Gary, these results are outstanding, and I wonder given your experience with them, what we would be worth doing differently next time?”

Asked of self “Even though I’m not sure about what to do here, what are three possibilities that I could examine and perhaps even test?”

The Worst Questions to Ask

Poorly phrased questions can demotivate, antagonise, cause disengagement and ultimately poor results.

They have these characteristics:

  1. Past-oriented
  2. Disrespectful
  3. Closed
  4. Judgemental
  5. Incurious

Often the disrespect is conveyed not by the words but the tone.

Here are some examples of the worst type of questions to ask:

“David, why did you do that?  Can’t you see it doesn’t work?”

“Gary, why did you let them do the project that way?”

“Michelle, is there a better way to do that?” (tone)

Question to self “Fool, can’t you do better than that?”

The Big Killer

Making statements, whether to others or to self, is the biggest killer of motivation, learning and progress.

Too often those statements are:

  1. Past oriented
  2. Disrespectful, especially when directed to self!
  3. Judgemental
  4. Closed off/limiting
  5. Critical/negative

Here are some examples of those statements:

“Phil, that project is stuck and making you not look good.  Get it sorted before you get judged by it.”

“Helen, that’s not what we’re looking for. Your points around safety and strategy are wrong.”

Statement to self “You idiot.  You’ve missed those key points.”

How often have you made those statements to yourself?

How often have you made them to others, though perhaps a bit more politely?

How do you think those makes us feel?


There’s power in asking great questions. They inspire answers, action and great results.

There’s force in making statements.  They can make recovery a hard slog for self and others!

There’s wisdom in listening.  If we listen carefully, even before asking questions, we’ll be wiser, especially when asking great questions!

What will you practice?

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