Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giving the Answer vs Giving a Chance to Learn

When someone comes to you with a question, or looking for advice, how do you respond? It's all to easy to simply give "the answer", telling them what you would do. But such a response may be missing a much bigger opportunity.

One improvement is to explain the 'why' behind the answer, sharing not only what you would do but why. This will help them evaluate the advice, and provides some insight as to what issues are important regarding the topic at hand.

But there's another approach that may be even better. Instead of telling them the answer (your answer), why not help them think through the question enough to come up with their own answer? Instead of giving them a fish, you're teaching them how to fish. How do we do this? Not by giving answers, but asking questions. 'What do you think?' 'Why?' 'What pitfalls could that run into?' 'Do you have the resources to do that?' 'What are the key issues at stake here?' 'What does Scripture have to say about this situation?' These coaching questions can be very powerful, and are great to use when developing the person you're talking to is more important (or as important) as the task or situation at hand. This not only improves the chance for a good solution, but helps people to think for themselves and understand underlying issues, and instills confidence.

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