Questions Stir up or Step on Brainpower

Did Tiger Woods refuse questions yesterday for the same reason others run from poisonous darts? Fact is, questions alter brainpower up or down.

Ask one question, and stir brain chemicals for innovation. Ask another and  short-circuit electrical wiring for mental blackouts. We rewire our collective brainpower through questions that stir curiosity or stomp out intelligence and growth.

No wonder people run when they feel vulnerable.

Two-footed questions jumpstart brainpower, and lead to change. for example. One foot ensures a topic is plummeted well, while the other  foot links to respect for each human’s experience. Yet questions too often come with toxic barbs from bullies or cynics.  How so?

Questions create blame or offer support

Ask, Why should we believe you? and you risk overheating a brain’s amygdala for harmful results.  Change the question to, How can we support you in the struggle you describe? and you replace cortisol with serotonin for well being and change. Do you see the difference?

We’ve rewired this nation’s brains to ask questions that create disagreeable expressions of gloom, and it’s time to transform inquiry tactics to look at problems with solutions more in mind. What do you think?

Questions cause gloom or increase hope

Ask, How can you sleep tonight after what happened? and you help to rewire the brain’s plasticity for more cynicism and angry responses.  Change the question to, How do you envision the best future possible? and you can convert tough mistakes into new neuron pathways to reshape moods and add dynamic solutions.

Questions reboot ruts or ignite rejuvenation

Ask, Why did you do such a stupid thing? and you connect a person’s dendrite brain cells to possible negative responses.  Change the question to, What could we do together for the sake of innovation in future? and you can convert common ruts into curiosity new solutions tossed into the mix. A person’s basal ganglia holds a propensity for ruts or rejuvenation. Questions can stir or stomp out either.

Questions  condemn or challenge

Ask, Did you think of anybody but yourself? and you shift the brain’s electrical wiring in the direction of cynicism. Change the question to, What past experiences could help to solve similar problems? and you challenge a person’s working memory to act as a tool for building a healthy focus forward.

Question spark humiliation or build curiosity

Ask, What happened and when? to catch another person’s ignorance of a lower level fact that you have memorized, and you humiliate a person in ways that shut down brainpower. Change the question to, How would this fact or that happening alter your position? and then name the lower level fact, to trigger the kind of curiosity that leads to higher IQs.

Do your typical questions transform brainpower into innovation? Or do  people like Tiger run from your inquisitions?

3 Comments

  1. Ellen, it seem when questions focus on the problem only, you could get mired there. Thanks for showing that questions we ask should look ahead and a renewed vision.

  2. [...] for the session, and invite participants to add or subtract from your offering. Then toss out  two-footed questions to rev up brainpower, along the way. In larger groups use pair-sharing to address the topic. In [...]

  3. [...] Brainpowered tool: Invite personal stories to respectfully create curiosity for multiple sides of issues. We often tend to hear only what we already believe, and so we miss [...]

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