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Active Questions for Change (GWTW330)

I love questions. Especially ones that inspire thoughts to unfold and stories to emerge. But what about powerful questions that can lead to behavioral change? I hadn’t really considered this type of question until I read the book Triggers and learned about the differences between passive and active questions. In today’s episode of Getting Work To Work, I’m going to explore these types of questions and how you can use them to get started on what matters most to you.

Quotes Referenced in this Episode:

From Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter:

The goal of asking active questions “is to alter our behavior, not the behavior of others. But that doesn’t make it less magical. The act of self-questioning—so simple, so misunderstood, so infrequently pursued—changes everything” (p. 102).

Passive questions “describe a static condition. ‘Do you have clear goals?’ is an example of a passive question. It’s passive because it can cause people to think of what is done to them rather than what they are doing for themselves” (p. 102).

“They can be a very useful tool for helping companies know what they can do to improve. On the other hand, they can produce a very negative unintended consequence. When asked exclusively, passive questions can be the natural enemy of taking personal responsibility and demonstrating accountability. They can give people the unearned permission to pass the buck to anyone and anything but themselves” (p. 103).

“…active questions focus respondents on what they can do to make a positive difference in the world rather than what the world can do to make a positive difference for them” (p. 109).

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