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I’m Grant Symons. I convene Transition Edge to help us understand how we can transition to a low carbon sustainable world using leading thinking and practices.
Having facilitated and trained many people over the years, the thrill of experiencing someone shift their perspective and choose to take a new direction never wanes. It rarely happens through standard learning approaches. But, when someone is asked a question, that invites them to really think...and they do... it can be like a new door opening.
From a practical perspective, those of you that might be thinking this sounds like 'soft' and 'airy-fairy' nonsense, you may wish to read on, because the evidence suggests that better questions lead to better answers. If you don't care for better answers, then don't read on!
Questioning and listening are dance partners. They exist together in real time - leading and following in potentially infinite harmony. They counterbalance and evolve through the rhythm of our relationships and conversations.
Before we get into a few life-changing questions, let's not forget that questioning is a practice, process and perhaps an art form - that may change ourselves and others. It can also be evidence of our disinterest in the other person, ignorance, delusion, tunnel-vision, or self centeredness, or general lack of interest in learning.
How often do we use bad questioning for the following reasons?
- To confirm our point of view (closed question)
- Change the topic to our line of interest
- Avoid a question from the other person
- Show how clever we are (circa something we care about)
- Make the other person feel deficient or inferior
As adults, depending on the circumstances at the time, we can all probably own up to some of these examples. Social interaction in adults can be highly regressive and questions can be an instrument in that.
Perhaps it's also worth considering that it hasn't always been this way. Our peak questioning age is circa 4 years old when, according to various studies, we might have been asking as many as 75 open and vulnerable questions a day.