The Art of the Question

This month, we're sharing the words of Laura Peck. Laura is a coach, facilitator, and yoga teacher with over 30 years of experience working with leaders committed to building a world that works for all. Her passion is at the intersection of reflection, conversation, and embodied presence.  We at Luminare are big fans, and encourage you to subscribe to her newsletter for some monthly wisdom.


By: Laura Peck

Last summer, I described three directions in which my work was evolving. I wondered, might the right questions and a few focused conversations lead to practical clarity:

CURIOSITY + QUESTIONS + REFLECTION = LEARNING

Curiosity is an essential mindset for learning. Curiosity expresses itself in questions. Questions direct attention. Suspending certainty makes the space to listen in, to think out loud with others, to discover new perspectives. If I am going to keep growing—in my work, in my practice and in my relationships—I have to be able to hold the tension between knowing and not knowing, between some mastery and some beginner’s mind, between certainty and inquiry. I have to be able to imagine…

  • I might be wrong.

  • I might be missing something.

  • There might be another way of looking at this.

Not All Questions Are Equal

Some questions are more narrowly constructed to elicit information or test agreement or transmit assumptions. The bar for a catalytic question is much higher. A catalytic question is:

  • Authentic- it is one for which we have no answer; it invites exploration and discovery

  • Ambiguous- it invites inquiry rather than problem solving

  • Personal- it invites disclosure; any answer, given honestly, is the right answer

  • Provocative- it surfaces assumptions, moving people to greater clarity and complexity

  • Constructive- it invites people to focus less on what they don’t want and more on what they do want; it suggests action

  • Creative- it is likely to invite fresh thinking and feeling; it opens new possibilities

Here are 3 examples of questions that seem to me to satisfy these criteria:

  1. How do we maintain our equilibrium in the midst of all the loss and change life brings us? How can we optimize our capacity for learning, growth, and renewal; maintain our sense of self; and increase our ability to be present with whatever comes our way? (from a recent invitation from the Elders’ Guild)

  2. How do I balance my desire to shape a world that works for everyone with the intimate work of raising young children? (from a conversation with a coaching client)

  3. What is the crossroads that you find yourself at this stage of your life or work or the project around which we are assembled? (from Peter Block’s The 6 Conversations essential to building and activating community)

What is a question that is working you?

I would love to hear from you, and I will use my newsletters to be in conversation with you about your questions. Don't hesitate to reach out anytime at laura@laurapeck.co.


If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway.
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie