The Four Natures of the Question

Different questions have different natures. Nature is defined as the inherent character of a person or thing. Understanding the inherent (in-built) character of a question is the key to success as a leader, coach teacher and even as a parent and spouse.

The inherent character of a question will largely determine the response for that question. I believe there are four basic natures of questions. These are: 1) Closed ended, 2) Open ended, 3) Rhetorical, and 4) Statement. Each nature solicits a different mode of response.

One of these natures causes the listener to use static recall, not engaging the higher order thought processes. Unfortunately, this is the type question most used in business, churches, classrooms, and even casual conversation. The other three nature’s of a question cause the listener’s brain to activate the cognitive skills of the brain, engaging the higher order thought processes described in chapter seven of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life.

Without engaging the higher order thought processes we cannot cause a learning experience or assist someone to move forward in his life. Understanding the Nature’s of questions will assist anyone in helping others.

Learning to use the proper natured questions at the right time will be critical in leading others in business and in family affairs. Read what Pastor Jason Price writes:

“George Yates is a master at asking questions. Even before Reading, Coaching: A Way of Leadership a Way of Life, I have seen first-hand how coaching can radically change the culture within a church, his coaching helped change ours!  George masterfully uses the art of asking the right questions, to lead churches and people on a road to self-discovery, helping them identify the God-given purpose for their church. The principles taught in, Coaching, are highly practical and transferable to any setting. They reveal the personal insights of an effective coach with decades of experience. If you have a desire to revolutionize the way you lead in your professional or church life, you need to read this book!”  R. Jason Price Senior Pastor Cornerstone Baptist Church, Nicholasville, KY.

George Yates is a coach and Church Health Specialist, assisting individuals, organizations, and churches in fulfilling their God-given purpose.

What Is The Purpose of a Question?

What is the purpose of a question? Have you ever considered this? As a leader (parent, teacher, coach), this should always be an imperative for every question we ask. Actually, the purpose of the question is four-fold. And each question you ask will fit one of the following principled purposes.

Properly formulated questions asked at the right time, in the right manner can 1) gather information: This is perhaps the most used purpose for asking questions. Yet, in my opinion, it is not the best use or purpose of greatest of greatest benefit. Using questions to gather information is beneficial and helpful in moving an organization or individual forward. Before asking a question to gather information know for what purpose you need or desire the requested information. Is it vital for forward movement?

2) substantiate a person’s prior knowledge of a subject: This purpose comes in very handy as a leader or coach, and can be beneficial for teachers as well. Before you move into deeper discussion about a topic or before assigning a task to a particular individual, you want to know his prior knowledge about the subject or assignment to be completed. Without understanding the listener’s prior knowledge of the topic, you may find yourself talking way over the heads of others in the room. Or you could find yourself wanting to discuss rudimentary ideas, when your listener is far beyond this level. In either case you’re likely to find the eyes of your listener glazed over and not engaged. Learn to ask the right questions to substantiate the prior knowledge of others in the room.

3) solicit your listener’s approval: As a leader, leader, teacher, or coach, there are times when you want to ask a question that will solicit your listener’s approval. “As we make this transition, you are willing to lead your department, aren’t you?” This could be followed with a question as, ”What are your biggest apprehensions about this transition and your department?” Asking questions to solicit your listener’s approval will assist you in determining their capability.

4) promote higher level thinking which leads to true behavioral learning and life change: This in my opinion is the greatest use of the question for all leaders- in the workplace, at home, in the classroom, – every leader in every realm of life. Very seldom should we use a question that does not engage the higher order thought processes of everyone in the room. Many questions used today from casual conversations to fortune 500 board rooms require only static recall – recalling facts and figures. This type of questions cannot produce learning and will never move a person or organization forward. It is not until the higher order (deep thinking) thought processes are engaged that forward movement can be experienced.

Understanding the purpose of a question before you ask it is essential to great leadership. Learning to think through the purposes of a question may take practice, but the results as a leader will be evident!

To read more about The Purpose of a Question read chapter eight of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life

George Yates is a coach and Church Health Strategist assisting organizations, churches, and individuals in reaching their God-given potential.

The question: a beautiful God-given masterpiece

Have you ever considered the purpose of a question? If asked on the street, most people would say the purpose of a question is to get an answer. But, is this a benefitable purpose? Maybe, if you are asking for directions, it is. Even in this scenario, you are receiving more than an answer. You are receiving valuable information directing your path. Think on this: when you ask for directions, you receive more than an answer – more than words. You receive a mental picture of what lies ahead. You receive intelligence that will lead you to a desired objective. This, in part, is the art of the question.

Let me ask this question: Is it not shallow and superficial of us to assume the only reason to ask a question is to get an answer? God gave us the beauty of the question for much more than simply to get an answer, as illustrated in the example above. The purpose of a question cannot be explained in one short definition. The purpose of the question is to unlock the mysteries of the mind, heart, soul, and will of every person in this world. The question is a beautiful God-given masterpiece. It is a palette of amazing colors for painting works of genius in the lives of those with whom we interact.

In Teaching That Bears Fruit, my first book, chapter four is titled The Art of The Question. When you ardently study the question, you learn that the question truly is a beautiful art form. Using properly formulated questions with correct timing you have the power to change someone’s life. All through the power of questions. With each question, you are providing the paint with which your others will be applying each stroke of the brush onto the masterpiece of his and her life. This is the fulfillment of properly deploying great questions.

Excerpted from chapter eight of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life.

George Yates is a church health strategist and coach assisting individuals, churches, and other organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose.


Leading Through Higher Level Thinking

I believe an imperative for a teacher, leader, or coach is understanding the importance of engaging the higher order thought processes of those sitting in front of you. As a coach, leader, or teacher, I must engage your higher order thought processes if I expect you to gain anything from our conversation. Just what are these higher order thought processes?

Much of the thinking we use every day relies on static recall, not deeper level thinking. Static recall is reaching into the memory bank. But it does not stimulate portions of the brain which cause us to learn or process new information. Static Recall Example: What day of the week is today? To answer this, you needed to engage your brain to recall something you already have in your memory bank. However, it did not engage your brain in a learning exercise.

Cognitive learning example: What does Saturday mean to you? To answer this question, you must engage more than static recall. It does indeed engage static recall as you must first determine what a Saturday is. But to answer the question, your brain must go into a deeper processing mode. Your brain begins to extract files of activities you do on Saturday. While doing this it also begins categorizing those activities into things you enjoy and those you do out of necessity, like yard work, laundry, house cleaning. Our tendency is to file those things aside and begin focusing on the things we enjoy doing on Saturday, spending time with family, fishing, watching sports.

All of this is happening in your brain at lightning speed. Your brain is processing thousands of pieces of material you’ve collected over the years. All of this is taking place in seconds to help you formulate a response. Since the brain processes information in this manner to help formulate a response, should we not take care to formulate the right questions?

Because the question was, “What does Saturday mean to you?” you will formulate a response by combining several of the pieces of information processed by your brain in those quick, few seconds. For many, it will be something they have never thought of or processed before. This one question has produced a learning experience for everyone in the room. As a coach, I would then ask a question based off part of the client’s response. It would be a question leading to his desired outcome; perhaps a more productive life, more time with family, etc. Example: “How do you guard your Saturday’s so that you have that special time with your family?”  or “What can you do to guard against scheduling things that take you away from your family on Saturday?”

Engaging the higher order thought processes is the only way we can attach new information to what already exists in our memory bank. Learning does not occur when using static recall. If we cannot attach the new information to something we already know, learning cannot take place. When we use questions that engage the higher order thought processes in a group setting, the brain of every person in the room engages. As one person responds verbally, all the others continue to process information including what is being spoken. Even if only three out of 36 people speak, each person in the room is experiencing a learning encounter.

As a coach, leader, or teacher you must learn to actively engage the higher order thought processes of your listeners. Now that the wheels are turning in your own brain, it is time to think on formulating good thought provoking questions that will engage the higher order thought processes and provide behavioral life-changing opportunities for your clients/students.

This post is based on an excerpt from Chapter 7 of COACHING: A Way of leadership, A Way of Life. Click on the title to learn more and to purchase your copy.

George Yates is a Church health Strategist and Coach assisting organizations and individuals to fulfill their God-given purpose.



If you are not asking the right questions…

There is not much that I find more intriguing in the professional realm than studying and reading body language and deeper listening skills. However, the one thing that I am most passionate about is questions. To be more exact, my passion is the proper use of questions. Questions have been used since the beginning of time. However, in today’s cultures more often than not, the wrong questions are being asked. It is true. In interviews, coaching sessions, Bible study groups, planning meetings, even casual conversations, we are asking the wrong questions. Many times we are asking the wrong type of questions.

Perhaps the greatest tool God has given us for leadership and teaching is the question. Throughout history, the question has been unequivocally used in learning and leadership. Two thousand years ago, Jesus was using questions to lead, teach, and equip His followers and all who attended His “seminars.” With His use of questions, Jesus proved to be a Master Teacher and Leader. We can learn to use questions in the same manner.

 For more than thirty years I have been a student of the question. Through the years my studies have included the various types of questions, the wording of questions, delivery techniques of questions, voice tone and inflection, even the emotion of a question. I never want to lose my drive, my thirst for learning more about the proper use of questions. My reason is two-fold. First, I want to be a lifelong learner. Second, the more I can learn, the more I grow in my ability to help others.

As a coach and leader, learning to use the right type of question, formulated properly will be the determining factor of success in moving your clients (employees, family members) forward. Being able to properly formulate the right type of question and deployment of each question with perfect timing and order is more critical in moving someone forward than his response to your question. Let that sink in for a moment. Your coachee’s success is more determined by your choice and delivery of questions than his own response.

If you are not asking the right questions, your listeners are not going to be able to give the response needed to take them on the desired path for fulfilling their purpose – or accomplishing the task. Learning to ask the right question, in the right manner, will bring greater results and your leadership will be appreciated and respected.

This post is adapted from an excerpt from chapter seven of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life.

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist and coach assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose.


In conversation Our Feet Point to Where Our Mind Desires to Go

Have you ever noticed a person’s feet in a conversation? You should because your feet communicate to others in the room. These are in most scenarios, involuntary communicators, but they are communicating. When you want to know if a person is still engaged in the conversation, just look at his feet.

For instance, two or more men standing speaking with one another will almost always be standing with their feet squared to one another, toes pointing straight ahead. This is a male dominance feature. Shoulders and feet will be squared off facing the other gentleman. However, if a woman joins the conversation, one foot on each of the men will turn pointing to her. Usually the foot closest to her.

While your legs and feet may not be as openly apparent in communicating, they are actively communicating, whether you are standing or sitting. Look to see where a persons feet are pointing and you will see where their mind is moving – subconsciously. When a person’s feet are pointing towards the door or large window, you can be sure this person subconsciously desires to leave the conversation. It is as if he is planning his escape route. If you are at a social event and a person’s feet turn toward a food or drink table, her desire is to refresh her drink or go for the grub.

The way we cross our legs and position our feet when we are sitting communicate the subconscious as well. Men in the western hemisphere often cross their legs in what is known as the figure 4 or 4 cross position. This is one leg crossed over top of the other, with the sole of the shoe facing outward. This is a sign of dominance. Men like to sit and stand with dominant posture. However, in some eastern cultures to have your shoe sole visible like this is considered rude and inappropriate.

Men and women can be seen sitting with legs crossed at the ankles. Women most often have their knees together, a sign of modesty. Men on the other hand sitting with legs crossed at the ankles have their knees spread apart to occupy more space, again representing dominance.

Whether standing or sitting, our feet and legs are communicating much about what the mind is thinking. A person’s feet will often point to where the mind is wanting to go. If a man is standing with one foot pointing in a slightly different direction, look to see what is in that direction, the exit, the food table, the bar, or perhaps a woman. Our feet point to where our mind desires to go.

You can read more about the subconscious communication of the legs and feet in chapter 6 of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of life. The legs and feet are perhaps the most underestimated communicators of our body. Yet, whether a person is speaking or listening, the legs are communicating.

George Yates is a Church Health Strategist and coach assisting churches, organizations, & individuals in reaching their full God-given potential.

The Eyes Have It!

We speak about 100 words per minute, yet we have the capability to think at up to 800 words per minute. Where do you think those extra thought words go? Our brain is processing something. But what? At the same time that we are listening to someone speak, our brain is processing a myriad of other audible sounds as well. If we are close enough to hear it, our auditory system is processing it. Those sounds that we are not focused on, our brain is storing in another part of our memory cache.

The information we receive audibly is only a small portion of what is being communicated. The greatest receptors of what is being communicated is through our vision. Our eyes receive the majority of all that is communicated to us. As you learn how to read what the eyes of others are telling you, think on the communication of your own eyes. What your eyes and body language communicate, will play a considerable role in how others relate to you.

Our natural bent is to make eye contact for a few seconds, looking away briefly every 30-45 seconds. If someone’s speaking is enthralling to you, your eye contact may remain for longer periods. Continual eye contact is simply not in our DNA. But good eye contact is critical in communication. Good eye contact reveals trustworthiness for the listener and respect for the person speaking.

There also is much being communicated when a person breaks eye contact, even if only for a brief few seconds. Learning these communication points will lead you strongly in understanding the primary message of what is being verbally spoken. Learning these will also assist you in understanding what you might be communicating as you break eye contact.

Breaking eye contact is natural. Over the course of fourteen years in the corporate world I conducted more than 5,000 job interviews. This is where I first began studying body language and eye contact. There were several interesting lessons learned during that period.

One of those lessons dealing with breaking eye contact is an interviewee looking toward the exit. When the person you are speaking with is uncomfortable, it is common for that person to glance toward the exit door. Not once, but every few seconds. This is a subconscious action, but as the interviewer, I often found it amusing. Continual glancing toward the exit is a subconscious statement, “I do not want to be here.” It is as if that person is planning his escape route.

The eyes also reveal other pertinent information as they break eye contact. Certain eye movements without gazing at a particular spot or area of the room reveal some of the greatest non-verbal information you can capture. Chapter three in Coaching: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life is titled, The Eyes Have It, gives an eye opening (no pun intended) view of what the eyes communicate and how to read this communication.


George Yates is a coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches and other organizations in reaching their full God-given potential.

Leading to Discovery

A coach is one who leads people to discovery. It is not often that a person will realize his/her potential without the help and encouragement of others. A coach helps individuals and teams to realize their potential and to discover ways of being efficient and effective in reaching that God-given potential. Most often when we think of a coach we think of sports teams. There is at least one similarity between these two types of coaches.

There has never been a sports coach who gave one once of skill to an athlete. A sports coach cannot endow or give an athlete any skill or ability to be a better ball player or athlete. You cannot give skill. What the great sports coaches have learned to do is assist the player in discovering and developing the skill and ability that lies inside the athlete. Thus, challenging the athlete to rise to his/her full potential as a ball player, runner, or swimmer.

Similarly, a personal coach assists the coachee in discovering and developing the life skills and abilities he/she has inside, allowing him/her to rise to his/her full potential in business and in life.

Not only in business and ministry, today people are using coaches for academic purposes, health related issues, family and personal coaching. One of the great attributes of coaching is that the skills and abilities worked on in one area of life tend to transfer over to other areas of life as well bringing balance and satisfaction.

The above is an excerpt from Coaching: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life. The official release date for this book was Monday, April 17. You can order your copy at Amazon or by clicking the book title above at SonC.A.R.E. Ministries. We are all coaches and leaders. Read what Associational Missionary, Larry Cheek has written about the book and other materials from George Yates and SonC.A.R.E. Ministries.

George Yates’ latest book, reminds me of the lyrics of John Fogerty’s song “Centerfield” and I must say, “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today!” I have known George and have read and used everything he has written to improve my performance as a leader. Regardless of your profession, this book will help you to become a better listener, learner and most of all a leader! I encourage you to join George on the path of self-discovery and a better way of life! Dr. Larry Cheek, Associational Missionary, Stone Mountain Baptist Association of Churches

Start Something New……….A Missions Outpost  

The following is a guest post from my friend Larry Cheek.

When was the last time your church started something new? Have you ever considered starting something new “outside” the four walls of the church?
Daylight savings time is an excellent time to start something new as an outreach of your church. May I suggest that you call it a  Mission Outpost?
An ” outpost” is a military term which means  “a position at some distance from the main force.”  I added the word mission because we need to get beyond ourselves and often the internal conflict and challenges that keep us focused on ourselves.
Recently, Thom Rainer shared in his book, Who Moved My Pulpit…Leading Change in the Church, that “your church will not likely be ready for change until it experiences some action toward an outward focus.”
What keeps us from having an outward focus? Here are some examples that were listed in the survey Rainer conducted:
1. Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or use the land for a cemetery.
2. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed.
3. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue.
4. Arguments over what type of green beans the church would serve.
5. A major conflict when the youth borrowed a Crockpot that had not been used in years from the kitchen.
So, my suggestion is rather than being focused on the inside, get focused on the outside. Look around your community. Is there a need that is going unmet? In a mobile home park? A subdivision nearby? A school? An apartment community?
Then, lead your church to move beyond the church property and start a mission outpost!  Do you need help? We have resources and people to assist, just give us a call!
Dr. Larry Cheek
This article first appeared in the Stone Mountain Baptist Association newsletter April 2017.
Dr. Larry Cheek is the Associational Missionary for Stone Mountain Baptist Association of churches.

Support the People, Accomplish the Vision

The leaders of any organization have but one primary purpose. In the church or other volunteer organization, this primary purpose is magnified greatly. The leader’s job is to support the people in accomplishing the vision by removing barriers, ensuring policies, practices, & systems make life easier for the members of the organization.

Many churches and similar organizations have no true vision. They may have dreams, goals, or “hoped for” aims. In my mind a vision is the compelling image of an achievable future. Even in organizations that have what they call a vision, very seldom is there any part of that vision compelling members toward fulfilling it. To compel is to desire something with all your heart. If it is not something that tugs at my heart I will not be compelled to help you achieve it. Leaders must cast a vision that tugs at the heart of individuals, compelling them to action.

Part of casting the vision for an organization is the removal of barriers. If I were in the jewelry business and our vision was to be the best known diamond carrier in town, I had better be certain we had a supply of fine quality diamonds in stock at all times. Yet, there is one organizational health factor even greater than carrying the needed inventory.

The greatest asset of every organization is the same – its people. The people in your church or organization need to know you understand this factor. The more you demonstrate to them your understanding of their importance to your organization, the more they will strive for the vision. Successful leaders know some of the greatest motivators for producing great workers have nothing to do with remuneration.

Successful leaders will always cast a vision, incessantly share the vision, and continuously work to remove any barriers that would stifle the work of fulfilling the vision. Before the vision is shared successful leaders have spent hours with others combing through the vision, identifying potential barriers. Then, more time is spent identifying approaches to break down or eliminate those barriers. Part of casting the vision then becomes equipping the members, not only in what the vision is, but how to overcome or eliminate the barriers.

Barriers to fulfill the vision are not always outside influences. In fact, most barriers reside inside the organization. Organizational systems, policies, and practices can be some of your thickest barriers. Be certain to evaluate these barriers as well as other obvious and not-so obvious ones.

Leaders, support your people, not in what you want, but in the way they need your support.

Support your people, they will accomplish the vision!

George Yates is a Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, pastors, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose.