I am so excited to share (with permission, for sure) this recent email I received from Chad Littlefield. Chad and Will Wise are co-founders of "WE!" Their mission is to create conversations that matter (and they do this with people all over the world). I highly encourage you to sign up for their periodic emails. They always inspire me to think about the all-important idea of connection before content. (And, for signing up with them you get "50 FREE ways to amplify connection, belonging and trust - GO HERE for more information.)
Thanks for sharing Chad!!
4 Questions Under 4 Words Each to Spark Engagement
Recently, I (this is Chad speaking now) gave an interactive keynote in Cartagena, Colombia for the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. This amazing group from 35+ countries helped me re-learned a lesson I had forgotten:
The simplest questions are often the most powerful questions.
Here are 4 of my favorite questions which are all under 4 words.
What struck you?
This question is perhaps my favorite “debrief” question as it is totally flexible. And it allows both “thinkers” and “feelers” to answer the question after a meeting, experience, presentation, conference, etc. You can customize it easily by adding a few words to the end: what struck you about … your interview? That conversation? This idea? Etc.
How might we?
Famously used in design thinking circles, this question can also be very useful to open up an idea-generating dialogue. One where possibility is at the forefront of doubts and negativity floats to the back.
One of my mentors who is an extremely skilled counseling psychologist gave me this question. It’s so open and offers a quick way to peel a layer off the onion so to speak. It can be used at the end of nearly every point in a conversation...although you probably wouldn’t want to do that.
What brings you joy?
Each one of these questions could have an article of their own as there is so much to unpack. But I want to share a story that came from what is currently my partner Will Wise’s favorite question: What brings you joy?
After sharing this specific question in a LinkedIn post on the power of simple questions, a reader and communication expert, Claire Laughlin, responded with this story:
I was recently co-facilitating a session with some colleagues who I hadn't worked with before. I suggested starting our workshop with the "what brings you joy?" question. My co-facilitators were reluctant.
They thought it might be too hard or too personal of a question for some to answer. So I walked over to the CEO who had hired us, and said, "Would you mind? What is one thing that brought you joy today?" He looked surprised and told a very touching story about watching his daughter walk confidently into school. Then he looked at me and said, "thank you for asking me that. It feels so good to talk about it."
Needless to say, my colleagues were convinced, and we started the workshop with the "joy" question.
Questions are like keys that unlock the lifetime of un-Googleable experiences we walk around with each day. Asking powerful questions opens a window into these life experiences, commonalities, differences, and possible contributions or collaborations that we each carry in our minds.
I did not spark this engagement. Questions did. A well crafted question does all the work for you.
All that said...what else?
As Chad has shown us, it doesn't take a lot to start an amazing conversation - all you have to do is ask a powerful question. We'd love to her from you - leave a Comment below.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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Dr. Chris Cavert is an educator, author and trainer. His passion is helping team builders learn and grow.