July 9th, 2020 | Latest News

Guest Post by Stan Oawster

The more the words –

The less the meaning!

And how does that profit anyone?

What makes leading with questions so powerful?  Is it having the right question for that particular moment; one that penetrates and gets to the heart of the matter?  Is it the perfect timing of a well-placed question?  Maybe it’s the way in which you ask, with curiosity and compassion?  Or maybe it’s the topic that the question generates, one that the individual has needed to confront in order to grow and develop?  All great moments.  I’d like to offer another suggestion for you to consider; it’s the moment of silence right after you ask your question.  That space between the question and the response.


It can be so long and loud while waiting for the response.  It seems like an eternity of awkwardness for those that don’t understand its power.  And the mind can race with anxious thoughts; did they not understand the question? Was it a poor choice of words on my part?  “Maybe I should repeat the question but tweak it a bit by rephrasing or being more concise, you know, help them with the clarity of where I’m going with it.”


Sit in it for a minute or two now.  Try it.  How are you experiencing it?  Does your heart feel rushed or anxious?  Do you feel like you just wasted two minutes?  Or maybe you feel nothing.  Maybe you feel refreshed and calm.  There are many responses and none of them are wrong – only insightful.

And insight is powerful.  I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as powerful questions, only powerful insights.  Silence is an effective tool that provides the space for others to gain and explore powerful insights.  If you’ve experienced the power of someone else gaining fresh perspective right in front of you – you know what I’m talking about!

LISTEN & SILENCE have the same letters! Coincidence?
The benefit for both of you are enormous:

  • The realization that they know how to strategize and solve the issue for themselves.
  • The path forward.
  • Long term sustainability, motivation and ownership.
  • Quality of the decision.
  • Greater trust in their own reflection and learning.
  • Clearer risk assessment.
  • A stronger relationship with you.
  • Feelings of being understood by another person.

And for you:

  • You will understand their real concerns and direction.
  • What’s most important to them.
  • You’ll challenge your own misconceptions.
  • Increase your listening skills – LISTEN & SILENT have the same letters!
  • Be able to place the work where it belongs, on them.
  • Gain a clearer vision into their thoughts and heart.
  • Really be the help and support you want to be.

In order for us to maximize our own leadership and coaching skills we will have to become more comfortable utilizing silence (as a tool) after asking a question.  It’s the only fertile ground where insights grow.

For reflection, learning and application:

  • What insight did you gain about yourself after sitting silently for 2 minutes?
  • What do you experience while sitting in silence after asking someone else a question?
  • What benefits do you see for others when you do “zip the lip” after asking a question?
  • How does the silence and leaning into listening help you stay focused and ask even more powerful questions?

If silence is a struggle, let someone else know you want to work on it and practice with them. Be Intentional!  Ask a question and be silent and listen. Keep the conversation going for 7 questions and then debrief specifically on what is was like for you to remain silent, listen and stay focused.

Let me know how you it goes for you.  What insights did you gain?  What challenges and victories did you experience?

I promise to be silent and listen.

Stan Oawster


Stan Oawster is a Senior Organization Development Consultant for a Fortune 100 company. He is a certified ICF coach, Action Learning coach, StrengthsFinder facilitator and coach as well as a certified facilitator of the class Leading with Questions.  He’s an Elder at his home church Hope Community Church and enjoys mentoring married couples with his wife Carol of 31 years.  Stan lives in Minneapolis, MN and enjoys spending time with his family.


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