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The Power of Questions

In another life some years ago, I was engrossed in some online research when my attention was diverted by a pop-up advertisement from one of my company’s longstanding B2B partners. The organization’s tagline offered this simple assertion: "The better the question, the better the answer, the better the world works". The message was certainly relevant to my day-to-day leadership responsibilities. Its congruence with some specific issues I was dealing with at the time, left me feeling as though I had inadvertently struck gold.

Years later, I find myself in a very different environment as a practicing therapist, and I am struck now by the enduring wisdom of that old ad’s pronouncement and its transferability to counseling endeavors and the processes of meaningful change. As I am honored daily with the privilege of engaging in collaborative, therapeutic work with individuals and couples, I am also witness to souls overwhelmed by unanswerable questions and varying states of hopelessness and despair. The complex concerns and sufferings of our human condition seem endless and unbearable at times, especially when we or someone we intimately love is the person sitting in pain. Girded with well-meaning eagerness to help, it is tempting to prescribe solutions, waste no time. When the therapist effectively resists this sense of urgency, clients may experience frustration and bewilderment: "Why can you not simply tell me what to do?". If those feelings are verbalized (which I encourage), a quick-fired answer becomes an enticing defense of my questioned capacity to help.

The client’s distress (and possibly distrust) is amplified when the therapist’s misaligned or poorly implemented solution hits the fan and makes matters worse for the client and those who care about them. Time is almost always better spent in ways that offer more effective therapeutic dividends. Good therapy provides a safe and affirming space for individuals, couples, and families to wrestle with challenging circumstances, hard life experiences, and debilitating responses to trauma. Beneficial, therapeutic outcomes (where the client’s goals and objectives are met) are supported through the therapist’s ability to offer the client better, intentionally focused questions rather than prescriptive answers.

What is the power of questions? What are "better" questions? These are questions that ultimately:

  1. Illuminate underlying core issues and concerns

  2. Explore the sources and purposes of resistance

  3. Reveal blind spots and hidden aspects of the self

  4. Facilitate enhanced clarity, understanding, compassion and acceptance of self and others

  5. Offer encouragement and restore hope, imagination, creativity, agency

  6. Empower new possibilities and coping skills and action plans that support the client’s needs and desired values-driven goals

Indeed, our answers and our outcomes are better when we ask better questions. Whether our daily lives are experienced within the context of a corporate environment or helping profession or otherwise, our collective humanity compels us to ask better questions as we embark upon a journey of self-discovery and daily revelation of our best selves.

Are you seeking a safe, inviting and judgment-free space to unpack the heavy baggage that limits and weighs you down with shame, self-doubt and hopelessness? A confidential, caring space where you can feel heard and understood, perhaps for the first time; where you'll find healing and the life-giving possibilities of something more, something better? Take the next step by scheduling a session via our online portal. Prefer a brief conversation to see if we’re a good fit? Email or message me or another Melton Wellness counselor to schedule a free, fifteen-minute consultation.

Take courage. Life is not meant to be an isolated, solo journey!


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