“Good questions open up conversations, generate respect, accelerate learning, and build relationships.”


One key insight into the early research on instructional coaching by Jim Knight and colleagues at the Instructional Coaching Group was that asking better questions was a key component to more meaningful dialogue between the teacher and the coach. Questioning created interactions that were back-and-forth and not one directional as was the case when coaches were caught in the telling-mode of coaching.

Photo of the covers of Jim Knight's book "Better Conversations" and the reflection guide companion book.

In Better Conversations, Jim highlights three simple and powerful strategies we can use to ask good questions:

  1. BE CURIOUS: When we are curious we see a conversation as a living interaction that we co-construct with our partner, not a means to tell someone something or an opportunity to control somebody.
  2. ASK OPEN, OPINION QUESTIONS: Open questions elicit unlimited responses and provide the opportunity for an expansive, extended response.
  3. BE NONJUDGEMENTAL: When we ask better questions, we do not use questions to make a statement or direct the conversation to the destination we’ve chosen. We ask the questions because we are genuinely interested.

When we adopt the habit of asking better questions, we communicate respect for others because (a) we don’t know the answer to our questions, and (b) we really want to hear what others have to say.

In order to lead ourselves and cultivate the habit of asking better questions, we have to exlpore our current reality through deep reflection and identify a preferred future for the conversations we hope to have with our colleageus.


Free Resources

We’ve identified three tools from Better Conversations that can accelerate your growth and improve the way you ask questions. These tools can be used for individual reflection or as a way to guide your next PLC or team gathering.


Looking Back Reflection

Looking At Current Reality

Looking Ahead Goal-Setting

We are always grateful for your questions and comments. How do you go about cultivating good habits for asking better questions? Let us know in the comment section below.


Want to learn more about Better Conversations?

Better Conversations virtual workshop >>

Better Conversations asynchronous course >>

Better Conversations book >>