Questions to Enable Discovery

Questions elicit data and seek answers as per the goals and curiosity of an Asker. To help folks find their own answers without biases, I’ve developed a new form of question.

Let me start at the beginning. As I’ve been saying, I’ve been seeking ways to permanently change behaviors and have recognized that behaviors are merely outputs from a series of brain messages that begin with some sort of input command. Obviously, to change a behavior means you’ve got to start with changing neural pathways. Hence the foundational question: how is it possible to generate new brain circuitry for new behaviors and habits?

Why not just try to change behaviors, you ask? Why do we need to change the brain?

Think about it for a moment. By the time we exhibit a behavior, there’s already a neural pathway that has initiated it. That means we must find a way into our brains and help them generate a new set of commands at the beginning, from the input, that culminate with a new behavior – the output.


Early on I recognized it wasn’t possible to change a behavior by trying to change a behavior and that permanent change had to come from new neural circuitry in our brains. In other words, it’s not possible to change an output (behaviors) without first changing the input (new commands). But how to get into the brain to help it change? This is the question scientists have posed for years.

I solved the problem but it took ten years of thinking. I figured out that the only way in is through questions, but not the normal kind. Questions that elicit the right data extraction from what’s already stored and position the new data in a way that causes new activity.

By pulling the right criteria in the right order from where they’re stored in our unconscious, it’s possible for anyone to generate behavior change and new habit formation. Instead of leaders and coaches posing biased questions according to their assumptions of where answers lie, why not enable people to find their own answers. But what was the way in?

I thought that maybe questions could find where our unconscious data is stored, but I realized that conventional questions are biased and quite restrictive: they pull information from Responders according to the needs, goals, and languaging of the Asker. Obviously this won’t reach the unconscious data, doesn’t encourage change, or provide a way in to the unconscious, the starting point for any proposed change.

I’d already figured out that during decision making people seek data from their memory channels in a specific sequence. I suspected a question could do that, but not a conventional question.

I then spent 10 years playing with words, brain sequencing criteria, intent and time. Eventually I found a way to extract the right data from the right memory channel, and a way to pinpoint the criteria needed for a human system to be open to change.


I finally developed a new form of question I call a Facilitative Question that addresses the systemic nature of change – the stages of criteria based decision making – and pulls data from the person’s unique memory channels rather than information or the curiosity of the Asker.

It’s quite important to note that my initial goal has changed from curiosity (always biased) to leading brain change so folks can get into their own unconscious to remain congruent with their own beliefs and norms. This includes the specific steps all brains use to change. (See 13 Steps of Change).

Facilitative Questions facilitate discovery criteria storage and what beliefs and norms and outcomes must be involved.

Here is a simple example:

A conventional question elicits data per the needs and curiosity of the Asker and puts the Responder on the defensive:

           Why do you wear your hair like that?

A Facilitative Question teaches the Responder to seek those specific beliefs they’d need to address, the historic data set they’d need to consider, and time so there is some comparator to contract the new vs the old. It also causes the Responder to go ‘meta’ to examine the problem from an unbiased vantage point:

           How would you know if it were time to reconisider your hairstyle?

It takes a few days to learn to formulate these questions, but it’s worth it. I’ve taught them to

  • coaches to facilitate clients through to their own discovery,
  • sellers to facilitate prospects through their buying journey,
  • leaders to help clients design their own route through to their own change,
  • healthcare providers to teach patients how to change their behaviors permanently to resolve health issues.

The applications section has learning tools. Go here.
As always, contact me with questions:

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