The quality of your communication is only limited by your ability to engage, create rapport, and express yourself.

One of the key elements of a conversation can be asking questions.  What sort of questions could take your interactions to a new level, particularly in your therapeutic work?

For example, asking ‘Why did that go wrong?’ can often lead to blame or guilt, whereas asking ‘What was your intention and how could that be achieved more effectively?’ is likely to create a very different response!

You may be familiar with the two basic styles of questions: ‘open’ and ‘closed’.

‘Open’ questions are the kind you use when you want to get someone to think about options, expand on an idea, trigger creative flow, provoke thought, and engender change.  It’s also ideal for general conversation and getting to know someone.  Answers to these questions will take time!

‘Closed’ is when you are trying to pin down a specific, limited answer.  The answers to these questions will be short, and hopefully to the point.

My question for you is, what are you trying to achieve with your question?  It might be to gain more understanding about what’s going on or to prompt a different perspective which will in turn offer new possibilities.

Here  are some high quality questions when exploring ideas and especially when there is a need to overcome problems.  

The obvious ones might be:

What do we BOTH want to achieve/feel/understand about this situation? (Shared values make everything else easier!)

♥ What is it affecting?

♥ When/where did this begin?

♥ What would we rather have?

♥ What contributed?

♥ How do I/we want this to be different?

♥ Who was/is involved?

♥ How much time is available to achieve this?

♥ What resources are available?

♥ How many options can we create?

♥ What is important to me about this issue?

♥ What is important to ‘you’ (the other party) about this issue?

You are likely to find that a selection of these questions can take your discussions to another level:

♥ In what ways can this process be streamlined/simplified?

♥ What if we come at this from another direction?

♥ Can it be done more easily or simply?

♥ What’s the people friendly solution?

♥ Are there any other viewpoints to explore?

♥ What IS working or useful in what we already have?

♥ What are our priorities?

♥ How would people feel about changing this?

♥ What would a great outcome look like?

♥ Who knows more about this than we do?

♥ How can we access expertise? (books, online, business angels)

♥ How can we motivate people to create momentum?

♥ At what level is this issue occurring?   (Community? Environmental? Capability?)

♥ At what level does this problem need to be solved? (usually the next level up!)

♥ What’s the higher purpose here?

♥ How much support can we get for this?

♥ What’s the simplest solution?

♥ Is it worth the energy to do x rather than y?

When you know what you want, then it’s time for questions leading tospecific answers, and deciding on a practical way of to move forward if that’s what is wanted/needed.

♥ When?

♥ Where?

♥ How?

♥ In what order?

♥ What checklists and safety processes (physical or emotional)?

♥ What specific technology, activity or process, if any?

♥ Are we agreed?  (Always worth checking!)

This is part of the Heart Centred Healer programme, developed by Jen Tiller, the founder of Healerzone.

For more information, please contact Jen on +44(0)1462 624 160 or email her at


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