What question to ask


October 12th, 2008

At a training program last week I was asked how I knew what questions to ask when facilitating. Good question! And like other good questions, it got me thinking. I don’t think it comes naturally. When I studied agricultural science, straight out of secondary school, we were encouraged to ask lots of questions. Consistently, I was told to ask more questions. In fact, I think I’m pretty average at asking questions. Which is OK by me, because that’s one of the maxims of improv – ‘be average’. Great advice.

Here’s some of what works for me when asking questions:

1. Be present – if my mind is elsewhere I’m not going to pick up on that nuance, that statement, that look that leads to another question.

2. Be curious – genuinely curious. I see it as part of my job to be curious, to want to know. 

3. Be obvious – ask the obvious, rather than trying to be too clever

4. Stop talking – let others do the talking

5. Say nothing – if I’m lost or don’t know what to say or ask, I say nothing. 

6. When it’s over it’s usually not over – my favourite question, ‘what else?’

7. Opening gambit – ‘what’s happening?’

And some of my pet peeves about questioning:

1. Asking the question and offering an answer, or answers, leaving the speaker with nowhere to go

2. Asking the question and offering an answer, or answers, leaving the speaker with nowhere to go

3. Asking the question and offering an answer, or answers, leaving the speaker with nowhere to go

OK – so you probably have got that message

 

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