Book Review: Ask Powerful Questions…Create Conversations that Matter



I’m always looking for ways to try new things with my reading habits.  Having long wondered about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, I decided Christmas break was a great time to try the 30 day free trial.  The first Kindle Unlimited Book I downloaded was Ask Powerful Questions: Create Conversations that Matter by Will Wise.    I’ll have to say that I was really pleased with how the first book went!  I’m grateful for the way that Wise helps deconstruct and then reconstruct conversations in a way that can lead to deeper relationships of mutual benefit.  This is not a Christian book, but there are a variety of biblical principles incorporated throughout as the reader is challenged to think about how their actions make other people feel.

I highlighted several things on my Kindle while reading and have posted those notes and quotes below.  Great read!

  • Nothing shapes our lives so much as the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never dream of asking. Our minds, bodies, feelings, and relationships are literally informed by our questions. — Sam Keen
  • Perhaps the most important lesson is that people want to be heard and understood. It may be the highest calling of our humanity.
  • People want to be seen. They want to know that you hear them (Openness), get them (Listening), and can feel what they are feeling (Empathy).
  • The people who really excel with this process are doing two things: asking powerful questions of others and asking powerful questions of themselves.
  • If you can ask questions that invite others to share, everyone will benefit. There is a wealth of intelligence available in the people around you and new insights to be found by asking powerful questions that will lead to a new level of collaboration and innovation. You can be a catalyst to creating conversations that matter.
  • As a teacher, as soon as I walk into a room, my intent has a direct impact on what happens. When my intent is to share knowledge, I become the expert, and everyone else becomes objects or faces with numbers associated with them. When I walk in with the intent to create an experience in which people realize what is possible for themselves, then magic happens.
  • Clarity of intention is about examining the story you are telling yourself and how you are communicating that story to others. Sharing your honest intention means fully understanding the following: what you are aiming for what your purpose is what you plan to achieve
  • The most successful leaders and facilitators are generous with their knowledge, are open, and allow others to know what motivates them.
  • I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. — Brené Brown4 —
  • You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. — Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize Winner
  • Powerful questions begin with What and How.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a stressful situation in which there were no clear answers and you took the lead. How do you deal with stressful situations when you are leading? What does your leadership look like when you are stressed and there are no “correct” choices?
  • When you practice deep listening, your mind shifts to the needs of those around you. Your focus is on the person sharing instead of your need to be right. When you’re in this space, you hear what’s really important. No longer is there a need to prove anything. The need is for them to fully express themselves and for you to receive that.
  • Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action. — Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
  • The word sarcasm comes from the Greek sarkazein, which means to “tear flesh.” When you look sarcasm up in a thesaurus, you see words like mockery, ridicule, and scorn. Those words don’t sound very welcoming to me.
  • Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. — Don Miguel Ruiz
  • How will you know that the group is in dialogue? Here are some indicators you can explore: People are listening for understanding. There are multiple perspectives being shared (often with no clear answers). You are hearing personal stories or reflections (if appropriate to intention or group’s goals). People are open and reflective to what is being said in the room. People are seeing others as equals and are open to their humanity. People are able to be empathic.
  • Sometimes, the conversation can move from dialogue to debate. The following list might help you discern when the conversation turned into debate: People are listening for (and responding to) the flaw in what the other person is saying. There are usually only two perspectives in the room. The issue has become polarized. Sometimes people are sharing facts or statistics to prove their point. People only want to win and prove their point (and are not open or reflective). Convincing, selling, or persuading may be present. Usually, they do not see their fellow participants as equals but as opponents to be defeated. People are focused on themselves and do not consider others. There is a feeling of argument in the room. Someone might be offended.
  • The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent. — Alfred Brendel, classical musician
  • We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone . . . and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. — Sandra Day O’Connor
  • We live by each other and for each other. Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. — Helen Keller18
  • Each layer of the Pyramid has two ways to describe what is happening in that layer. These sentences in themselves summarize the book well. empathy: I feel with you listening: I get you openness: I hear you rapport: I see you intention: I am willing to know you

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