Powerful Questions

February 27, 2009

Lately, I have been thinking that conversations work like doors. Sometimes conversations are “open” and through them we can see new possibilities. Other times you can feel a discussion closing down, locking out new information or diverse viewpoints.

Powerful questions have a great habit of re-opening constricted conversations. This week I ran across a short video from Thailand that asks two intriguing questions:  

  • What you are responsible for? 
  • What is your commitment?



Asking myself these questions has a centering effect when in stressful situations. They open my internal doorways. The two questions help me clarify what I can control and my appropriate next steps; I pause (a good thing in conflict) as I consider, “OK, what really am I responsible for in this situation?” and “What are my highest commitments?” And, as seen in the video, asking others can transform someone you believe you know well into a fascinating stranger. 

 I invite you to give them a try and welcome your insights!

Deidre Combs

Deidre Combs is the author of three books on cross-cultural approaches to resolving conflict and overcoming challenges:  The Way of ConflictWorst Enemy, Best Teacher  and Thriving Through Tough Times. The books integrate perennial wisdom from the world’s lasting cultural traditions with systems theory and brain research.

Dr. Combs is a management consultant, executive coach, mediator and core instructor in Montana State University’s Leadership Fellows Certificate Program and Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Global Competence Certificate Program. Since 2007, she has also taught intensive leadership training to State Department-selected students, teachers and professional leaders from throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and Pakistan’s FATA region.

Related Posts