Scenario: Butting In Written by DrBea on April 9, 2012. Posted in Action Learning, WIAL Talk As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation: Someone answers a question that was asked of someone else. Tags: Action Learning Coach Trackback from your site. Comments (14) Emma O. April 9, 2012 at 8:16 am | # My response would depend on the frequency of the behavior. As it breaks one of the clearly stated rules of Action Learning, I would obviously need to see that it’s corrected. The first time it happened, I would allow the respondant to finish and then insert myself by leaning forward and asking about the importance of the rules, what challenges we might be having in following them, and how might the conversation benefit if we follow them. If the behavior repeats itself I might ask the person how they could still contribute to the conversation in a positive way while staying within the rules set for the conversation. If it repeats again, I would share in a learning moment by asking about the level of the conversation and asking for ideas the group has to elevate it. And if there’s no correcting the person either through my input or the group’s input, I would probably pull that person aside after the meeting to speak more directly to the situation. Reply Cleo Wolff April 10, 2012 at 8:50 am | # It seems that the ground rules are important to be pointed out again, just after the first interruption: I would like to make it clear again about our rules that everyone agreed: everyone can asks the question and answers to everyone. How can we work as a team that everyone has the chance to participate? I think I would be more direct in this case as we need to preserve the participants as AL coaches. Reply Gil Flori April 16, 2012 at 1:23 am | # The context in which this scenario happened would be important for me in deciding how to handle it. I would agree that it would be necessary to revisit the ground rules but my approach may vary if it wasn’t 100% clear who the question was directed to? I may intervene in this scenario to check if the question was being asked of a specific person or the group. The person may also have butted in because they were frustrated at not being asked for their input – if I had picked up on this, I’d be more likely to do an intervention relating to what’s the impact on the group of directing our questions to only individuals and not the whole group. Reply Jo C April 22, 2012 at 7:56 am | # I agree on the importance of preceding behaviour and context statements above. I might let it go or ask: Could we clarify whether this question is for the whole group or just an individual? If this was a repeat pattern that wasn’t picked up in the first intervention, I would consider an intervention along the lines of “To what extent is the pattern of asking and answering questions impacting the contribution of group members?” Reply Dr. Kavita Sethi April 27, 2012 at 5:29 am | # While this infringes on the rules of action learning, my reponse would greatly depend on the culture diversity of the group. In more ‘extrovert’ cultures I would let the team member answer the question and then follow with Jo’s question on whether the question was addressed to the whole group or the individual. However, if one member was hijacking the interaction repeatedly, it would present a potential learning opportunity on mutual respect and listening. Reply Chander April 27, 2012 at 9:36 am | # Jo C’s response as an intervention “Could we clarify whether this question is for the whole group or just an individual?” would set the tone that we have to adhere to the rules of engagement respectfully. In a cultural environment where one express oneself assertively often, we may want to intervene and pose a question ” What is the opportunity level on a scale of 1-10 in answering questions asked?” Reply Chjames May 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm | # These are excellent comments, and I agree with Gil that the context would be important for how I might respond. To offer another context, often you have participants who are quick to jump in with a response, whether or not the questions are posed to an individual or the group. In a recent session, I had a participant who began to dominate in such a way. I let it continue for a bit to see if it would correct itself. When it didn’t I asked, “How many responses is the group hearing to each question?” and “How many of the group members voices are typically being heard?” The participant himself confessed saying, “I am talking WAY to much right now!” I asked what impact that was having on him? on the group? As the sessions continued he actually became a champion of sorts in making sure to ask others if they had other thoughts to add after a question was answered. Reply Sanjay Mehta May 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm | # I would let the person answering the question complete his answer, and then would clarify with the person who answered the question if the question was directed to an individual or to the whole group. I would then remind the group about the ground rules to answer only if it was directed to them or if it was addressed to the whole team. If it repeats itself, I would remind them again but also ask the whole team about what the importance of following rules were and what the impact was of not following them. Reply David Troupe May 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm | # I’ll use curiosity again and ask, “Khamin, was that question directed to Gloria, someone else, or to the table?” This approach helps the team understand my role in paying attention to those things that might reduce communication effectiveness and thereby impede learning. Reply Vishruta Mattu May 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | # I would say, “Are questions being answered by those to whom they are adressed? What is the impact of that on the team?” Reply Vishruta Mattu May 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm | # Followed by “what does the team want to do about it?” “Now, who’s got the next question?” Reply Jill Bayly May 7, 2012 at 4:17 am | # Davids use of curiosity is valuable here as the team is left to self regulate. If this situation is a once off, I might leave things at that as most times people do appreciate they either cut across or responded for another. Clarifying the direction of the question would be my preferred choice here. Reply DrBea May 7, 2012 at 8:33 am | # Great responses! I would ask the person who posed the question if if they intended the question for just the individual or just the entire team. Depending on the response and the pattern to that point I would follw this with either “What’s the impact on the team when others respond when we are seeking an individual view?” or “What’s the impact on the team when we restrict our question to an individual view?” Finishing off with – “How would we like to handle it?” Happy Coaching Bea Reply Daniel Belet June 8, 2012 at 10:35 am | # Thanks Bea for your comment about this point, but from our practice it appears that it is not always clear if the question is intented to a specific individual or to the group… Reply Leave a comment You must be logged in to post a comment.