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Start with a question

Good Group Tips

In principle, when I enter into a discussion with a statement rather than a question I am presuming to already know all the answers. Most conflicts are due to misunderstanding so when my opinion is based on presumption I am probably headed for conflict.

When I begin a discussion with a question I show respect for others, that I want to hear what they have to say. The longer I remain truly open-minded the greater the chances that my opinion is based on complete understanding.

Practical Tip: Even though you might have an opinion forming in your head, hold off expressing it and start with questions instead. Be genuinely open to changing your opinion based on new things you learn. Good questions start with “why”, “how” and “what.” Good questions are open ended. Examples: “Why do you think that? How has it worked well in the past? What do you think is the cause of the problem?”

When I start with a question I am less threatening to others, I am more likely to develop a well-informed opinion, and I increase prospects for avoiding conflict entirely.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

4 thoughts on “Start with a question

  1. Objective questions help demonstrate that one is open to the thoughts and input of others before making a decision.

  2. I am enjoying reading the Tips and thought I’d pass on one after reading the “Start with a Question” tip. Questions that start with “Why” have to be worded carefully because they can be used as judgmental statements rather than as genuine questions. For example, a supervisor might ask “Why would you think that we would ever do it like that?” in such a way that the employee understands the question as a negative opinion. A parent or teacher could ask, “Why did you write on the wall/ cheat on the test/ do something without permission?” as a statement of blame for an action and that no answer would be accepted. A better and more honest approach is to say what you actually mean or inquire sincerely as to the reason for a behavior or statement. The hearer will be able to tell the difference.

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