Asking solution focused questions

Most solution focused conversations entail asking effective questions, rather than making statements or giving advice. We use appreciative, respectful curiosity to create opportunities for the other person (or group) to think creatively about how to progress towards their goals.

(We avoid leading questions which embed our solutions, such as “Why don't you ...?”, or “Have you thought of ...?”).

Here are some examples of solution focused questions:

At the beginning of a meeting:

What are your best hopes for this meeting?

What would you like to achieve today?

How will you know later that this meeting has been successful?


At your best:

Suppose in your next XX (day at work / occasion you've worried about / team meeting / etc) you're functioning at your very best:

What will you be doing differently?

How will others know? What will they see, hear, feel that will be different?


Talking about the past:

In this situation you've described, what worked well?

What would the others say they appreciated about you, in spite of the difficulties?

How did you cope?

Of what you did, what would you want to carry forward?

What would you not want to repeat?

How would you want to do it differently if this happened again?

What have you learned from this episode?


Moving onwards using scales:

On a scale of 0-10 where 10 equals you at your very best, where are you now?

What have you done so far to get to there?

What needs to happen for you to go on progressing up the scale?

What will you be doing differently at the next step up? How will you, (or significant others) be able to tell?

Let's suppose you get to the next step up tomorrow. What's the smallest sign that will tell you that things are improving?


The next steps upwards:

Of the thinking we've done here today, what has been helpful for you?

What will you take away with you from this conversation?

What would you like to see yourself doing differently between now and next time we meet?


Finishing the session:

If 10 equals the best meeting ever, where are we today?

What have we each done that's made it work this well?

What needs to be different to make it even better next time?