Question asking in the workplace LO21797
Tue, 1 Jun 1999 09:23:05 -0500

Replying to LO21747 --

Tony wrote
>I believe that a good question already contains half of the answer. A
>well thought out question will not necessarily answer itself, but it will
>lead the person in the right direction--thus containing have the

A colleague and I have radically different styles for facilitating groups.
We talked about this one day, and especially about our discomfort with one
another's styles.

My comment about his style went something like this: 'You stand there in
front and just tell me everything you know. And you know so much I get
overwhelmed. I can't process the stuff as fast as you can deliver it.
And you have citations and references for everything! Can't you slow down
so I can assimilate some of it? I'm making connections on the fly, and
want to try them out on you.'

His comment about my style went something like this: 'You throw out some
idea that you have clearly thought out in advance. Then you ask some
questions, and I'm supposed to come up with answers from somewhere. I
know that you already have something in mind and I feel like I'm being
manipulated, made to work my own way to the conclusion you already drew.'

In his defense of his actions at trial, as I recall, Socrates claimed that
he was not guilty of teaching -- he simply asked questions and let people
discover what they already knew but hadn't actually thought about. Asking
questions is a powerful way to work, but handled badly it can come across
as manipulation. I know I've adjusted the way I do some things based on
the candid feedback from my friend.

Michael A
- Michael Ayers
Mailto: Voice (651) 733-5690) FAX (651) 737-7718
IT CC&PD 3M Center 224-2NE-02 PO Box 33224 St. Paul MN 55133-3224
Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?'
Ideas contained in this note represent the author's opinions and
do not intentionally represent the positions of anyone else in this galaxy.


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