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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

Why ‘Ask, Not Tell’?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

A reader asked me recently why this blog is called ‘Ask, Not Tell’ (or ANT as I call it sometimes). I am embarrassed to realise that I did not write a post explaining why this before.

Here is the thought behind. I called it because QUESTIONING skills is the single most powerful skills that I realise in recent years. I pick this, say, over ‘training’, ‘presentation’ or ‘facilitation’ as the underlying concept for the blog name because QUESTIONING skills is more basic, primary, fundamental, original…. It is the bricks for the skyscrapers. It is in fact the necessary element for training, presentation or facilitation. More than that, this skill is also the building block for coaching and selling.

In the training / presentation / facilitation world, asking questions can yield you a lot of benefits:

  • Uncover participants' need

  • Give yourself thinking time

  • Show interest on the participants

  • Compel the others to think

  • Check understanding

In the selling world, on top of the above benefits, asking questions can let you:

  • Control conversation

And in the coaching world, again on top of the above benefits, asking questions can also make your coachee to:

  • Explore more options

  • Take ownership

I thus pick questioning skills. I want this blog to be as original as questioning skills to the others. And of course, I want to master wonderful questioning skills. The natural first step is to ask more questions, and tell less, before we care about how the powerful the questions are. Having said that, it is not easy to ask rather than tell. In fact, the more knowledgable you become about the topic, the more tempting it is to tell a lot. The Curse of Knowledge.

So, ‘Ask, Not Tell’ is the best choice. It is a concrete tip for us to master questioning skills – one of the most important building blocks for many soft skills.

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