Here are some more of my favorite power questions that leaders can use to help motivate and influence their people.

In Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, 2012), consultants Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas present more than 200 significant questions, along with stories about how to use them.

Out of the 200 questions, it was hard to choose the best ones, but these are my favorites that really work.

  • “How did you get started?”

Ask people how they got their first job or decided to go into a particular field. Background questions provide a better understanding of another’s frame of reference. Everyone has a story— and unless you ask, you’re missing key pieces of the human puzzle.

  • “Is this the best you can do?”

You’d be surprised at how many people actually appreciate it when you encourage them to do better. Instead of accepting their first efforts, give them an opportunity to improve. Don’t let them coast. Call attention to their strengths, and suggest that they’re capable of doing more. Don’t let mediocrity or convenience replace stretch goals.

  • Peter Drucker’s Five Magic Questions

Management guru Peter Drucker posed five questions to his corporate and organizational clients, which can be applied to your personal and professional life:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Which are the most important relationships you want to invest in?
  3. What are the essential priorities and goals of those closest to you?
  4. What are your expectations of the people around you, and what do they expect of you?
  5. What is your plan?

Use these and other power questions to add excitement and meaning to your conversations. You’ll be surprised at the stories that unfold, thereby deepening your relationships.

I really do think there’s magic in asking the right question at the right time. I’d love to hear about the questions you ask when you want to get to know and understand someone better. Please leave me a comment, either here or over on LinkedIn.