Writing Questions to Focus Yourself for More Empowering
I have found many ways to use the power of focusing attention
through the writing process. Writing focuses your attention,
sharpens and directs your thinking process, and clarifies
situations. Written and well-thought-out questions often contain
the answer, or answer themselves. I have used writing to focus
my own attention, suggested written exercises for clients,
and calmed and energized groups.
Writing Questions to Focus on The Job
During the first week of my first job following college,
my supervisor told me to write down all my questions in preparation
for talking the next day. While I know that she was motivated
by finding a way to not be bothered with questions all day
long from new employees, I have benefitted more from this
suggestion than she did. I have come to consider the act of
writing down a question to be a brilliant method for focusing
attention that I have carried forward in many situations.
In that job in those first few weeks, I had many questions
I did not even know how to ask articulately. As I wrote down
each topic or question, I let go of some of the frustration
that I did not know the answer. It was now on the list. I
could move forward.
Another important dynamic happened: I usually answered by
own questions! Sometimes I did not answer my original questions
fully, but my questions became sharper, deeper, or more insightful.
Usually, I formulated a better question as I continued until
the time I could ask my supervisor. Occasionally, I checked
with my supervisor to be certain that I had answered my own
questions properly, which I realize now, with a view of greater
and more mature understanding, was a positive demonstration
of my thinking process.
Writing Questions to Focus a Group
A remarkable incident occurred when I was a trainer at a
state agency conference with over 200 participants from all
across the state. An announcement was made by the previous
speaker that upset the group. The speaker offered no resolution,
no soothing, no suggestions, no insights. It was a verbal
Fortunately, a scheduled break came between the bomb-announcement
and my presentation. This allowed me time to assess the situation
a little more fully by wandering the crowd. I wanted to identify
a process that would help the group to transition into my
presentation. Everyone who "advised" me during the break suggested
that I say nothing about the previous talk. Say nothing? In
my view, that seemed too disrespectful. I could not do that.
Of course, I had nothing I could say about the subject itself,
but I could offer a process to acknowledge the incident.
After my introduction, I started by asking them to each tear
a piece of paper from their three-ring binders. Rip, shuffle,
snap, slam. Then I instructed them to write one or more questions
on the piece of paper that they wanted answered. I gave examples
like, write a question to ask someone before the end of the
conference or to ask someone when they returned to their office,
or any other action they might consider taking when they returned
home, related to the announcement.
The turmoil slowed down. I noticed, even though most were
writing, that the room of over 200 persons had created that
dynamic of silence we often refer to as "being able to hear
a pin drop." When most seemed finished with the assignment,
I suggested they fold the paper and put it in their pocket
or purse or into the pocket of their training folder.
In three minutes, I used a process that calmed a group of
distraught individuals. I had no solution, no promises, no
information about the announcement. What I did have was their
attention. They would have followed me anywhere. More important,
though, they were empowered. I used the power of focusing
their attention through writing something that was important
Writing Your Questions for Empowerment
How can you use writing to focus your attention? If you
are already successfully using writing to clarify your thoughts,
how can you enhance the process for yourself? There are many
ways you can use questions to elicit empowering answers, here
is one approach:
- Identify the subject. Keep it simple.
- Consider what you want to know about the subject to propel
you forward. Notice the suggested direction (forward, not
- Formulate several questions. You might consider the questions
are preliminary, possible, feasible, or brilliant.
- Put the answering on hold. The hold time may be an hour
or so while you do something else or overnight.
- Look at your written questions and let the answers flow.
If it helps to let the answers flow more easily, pretend
that these are someone else's questions rather than yours.
While you may think that the answer is all important, consider
that sometimes it is the question that is all important. The
key is to match up the question and answer for empowerment.
"Yes" can be an empowering answer, but what is the question?
Copyright © 2006 Marshall House, http://www.mhmail.com
Jeanie Marshall, Empowerment Consultant and Coach
with Marshall House writes extensively on subjects related
to personal development and empowerment. Discover her guided
meditations at the Voice of Jeanie Marshall, http://www.jmvoice.com
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