Develop the Habit of Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a vital success habit. When you develop your skill of asking reflective questions—those that foster self-evaluation—you can see problems in a new light, become more proactive, and ultimately reduce stress.

Even better is to foster this skill in others, including your children, teammates, and employees. You will empower others when you help them develop this skill. The dynamic behind asking reflective questions is that it encourages ownership because people don’t argue with their own viewpoints.

Here are some suggestions for asking effective reflective questions that encourage self-reflection:

  • Focus on the present or future—as opposed to the past. What’s done is done and dwelling on it won’t help anyone. Instead, keep focused on what you can do now and in the future.
  • Frame the questions to fit the situation and clarify—rather than aim to convince. You can’t force someone to change their mind. What you can do is encourage self-reflection, which will often prompt them to see things differently.
  • Start with “What?” or “How?” Avoid asking “Why” questions, as they often sound accusatory.
  • Make your questions open-ended, requiring more than a “yes” or “no” answer. However, if a “yes/no” questions will to self-inquiry or self-evaluation, then that is okay. Some examples are:
    • Is what you are doing working?
    • Is what you are choosing to do helping you get what you want?
    • Are you willing to do something different if it will help you?
    • Are you taking the responsible course?
    • If you could do better, should you?

Tip: Self-reflection helps you better understand who you are, what your values are, and why you think and act the way you do. When you are clear on these things, you can see situations differently and make positive changes in your life.