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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Leading with Questions

Three years ago when I started writing this, I shared some thoughts about superiority of questions over declarations when dealing with our kids.  I want to expand on that some.
Ever find yourself in arguments that could have been avoided?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The expansion is that questions are generally superior to declaration in just about every relationship.  If I make a declaration to a person and they do not agree, that puts them in the position of having to disagree with me.

However, if instead I couch the position as a question, the individual is invited to share without having to disagree.

Quick example.  In a study I am in, one of the men was considering withdrawing from the study.  He was facing a time crunch and felt like he was not able to do the work at the level he felt was appropriate for that study.  As an aside, the study is at a relatively high level.  He asked permission to engage with the study with the understanding that he may have to withdraw later or he would not share much in weeks he was unable to prepare.

One of the men made a declarative statement that he was welcome but if he had not done the work he should just audit the discussion.  For a number of reasons others in the group did not agree.  So they had to vocalize that disagreement to the declarative individual.

It would have been better if instead of the declaration, the individual would have asked something like, “Guys, how do you think we can engage Sam (not his real name) most effectively given his situation.”  We may have come to my friend’s conclusion, but it would have been a discussion rather than a disagreement.

This helps in every relationship.  It is not easy.  At least it is not easy for me.  I have to think before I speak to engage with people this way.  Which, as I come to think about it, is not such a bad thing.  It helps me follow the old advice, “Make sure your brain is engaged before you put your mouth in gear.”

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