Follow by Email

Friday, July 24, 2015

Asking the Right Question

Keith just sent me an excellent piece on "Strategic Questioning" by Fran Peavey.

How you utter the question makes all the difference in the world. It can open dialogue or end it. It can build ongoing relationships or destroy them. It can promote initiative and creativity or kill it?

I learned strategic questioning, as Peavey calls it, as an organizer (Alinsky always pushed Socratic method) and as a teacher ( Freire and Dewey counseled "liberating" rather than "banking' education). But I often forget it with my best friend and family, with my colleagues and employees, with fellow citizens and political opponents, and even with myself. So it is good to have this reminder.

Asking the question so that it is open, dynamic, empowering, relational, collaborative, and even self-questioning leads us to a world that is open, dynamic, empowering, relational, collaborative, and ever transcending. In both my family life and my work life, it promotes listening and cooperation. In politics and community action, it promotes free speech and social cohesion. In cultural endeavors of science, art, and religion, it promotes further inquiry and new insights.

The question starts the thinking process. The question frames the answer; the inquiry shapes the concepts and models of reality; the pursuit of personal and public happiness carries with it interpretations, along with assumptions. There are no "pure," neutral, or unbiased questions. Therefore the question itself needs to be questioned. "How," I must continually ask myself, "in my conversations and discussions can I state my question so it leads us both beyond where we are here and now and on to the next and better question?"

Strategic thinking requires strategic questioning. But I have so much to learn about doing it.

No comments: