Question asking in the workplace LO21808

Richard Charles Holloway (
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 11:56:54 -0700

Replying to LO21796 --

Reading these questions on questions and answers has provided a delightful
and insightful look into some cultural and individual characteristics of
the people responding. Thank you.

I remember a boss from years ago who used to ask insightful questions --
like, "why the hell did you do that?" and, "who in the @#$%@ did that!"

I seem to remember the questions better than the answers.

Perhaps I've become sort of a wimp, in retrospect. I tend to ask
questions like, "hmmm. That's an interesting thought (action, statement,
etc). I'm not sure I understand that. Would you be good enough to
explain that to me?" Then I listen real hard, and ask follow up
questions. I notice that some folks wrote about follow-up questions.
Sometimes I express those as "oh?" and " what then?" or "Would
you clarify that for me, please? I don't seem to be able to follow you?"
I sound like a real dummy to people sometimes, it appears. Nodding my
head and engaging the speaker's eyes (a cultural trait, I suppose) while
they speak often seems to lead to clarifying answers and follow-up answers
without too much verbalization on my part. Silence is also effective in
eliciting continuing responses...and may be the most powerful question in
my toolbox.

In my youth, as a journalist in training, I learned to do all of the "who,
what, why, where and how's" and I still follow that same outline when
trying to capture an understanding of some new experience. I've simply
reframed the external process over the last 6 or 7 years. Thank you for
asking the question about questions because I've been able to understand a
little more about why and how I operate. This will make an insightful
knowledge object.



"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind, and proving that there
is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof." ^WJohn
Kenneth Galbraith

Richard Charles Holloway -
P.O. Box 2361, Olympia, WA 98507 Telephone 253.539.4014 or 206.568.7730
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