Scenario: Confirm Thought

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

Some makes a statement followed by – “do you agree?”

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (12)

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    Emma O.

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    If the respondent jumps right in and answers as if it was an open-ended question, I wouldn’t interrupt. Rather, I would wait for a good time to insert myself, lean forward, and share a learning moment – asking what they thought about the level of the conversation and (if they don’t get there on their own) asking what close-ended confirmation statement questions does to the level of the conversation.

    If the respondent is flustered and there is a pause where everyone is aware of the “rules of questioning” and is looking to me for help, I would definitely insert myself and gently ask the speaker how they might turn what they just shared from their point of view into an open-ended question seeking the respondent’s point of view.

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    mattfarmer

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    I think it depends upon at what stage we are in the process. There are times when simple clarifying questions may be needed to progress the team to where they need to get to (e.g. when developing an action plan). If I felt that someone was trying to be controlling by using a closed question or struggling to use questions effectively I would intervene. First off I would say, “I am observing that a question has been asked which offers a very limited range of responses. Has anyone else observed this?” (By putting this in the third person I would hope to overcome any defensiveness on behalf of the questioner). I would then follow-up with a general, ‘what impact does asking this kind of question have?’ and then subsequently with, “What kind of questions could we ask to overcome these issues?”

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    Jennifer Bryan

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    I agree with Matt – it completely depends on where the group is in the process and what their objective(s) are at the time. It may be they need to obtain agreement as a group to move forward, for example. However if this is more about an individual seeking affirmation for their own thoughts or shutting down a conversation, then I would feel I need to intergect and ask the group “what questions would help the group?” Then enable them to articulate more open questions are required at that time during the process.

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    Cleo Wolff

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    I do agree with Matt at the first part regarding the moment we are at the AL session. But I would wait for the first internvention and ask: In a scale from 1 to 10 how is the quality of the questions? How open are the statement? How can we bring more of the team?
    If someone keeps doing closed question I would intervene straight away and ask: How can you turn this question into a opened question? Is there anyone who would like to help on that?

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    Grace Tseng

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    In addition to all the great comments from previous commenters, I would also find a good timing to ask the team to reflect on “the quality and variety of responses” the team get from open questions and from more closed questions. The team can determine whichever way is more helpful to the team.

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    Daniel Belet

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    I agree with most previous comments. However I think that we must distinguish two different situations : a question asked by the coach or by another member to the group in order to summarize an exchange or to try to reach a collective agreement about its feeling related to the present state of the AL process. (This would seem in line with the AL philosophy and process) and a question about the issue dealt with by the group where the “Do you agree?” presents the risk of closing the group reflection going on or put a constraint on the freedom of the group, therefore threatening the content of its production.

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    Bonita Lee-Shew

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    Great comments. And I would agree that this may be an opportunity for the group to reflect and learn about framing quality questions. I may say something like – “This feels like an opportunity for us all to learn from your question Mr X – do you mind if we pause on this for a moment? Any thoughts on the question you have asked? Does the group have any thoughts? When would such a question be appropriate? When would it not be appropriate?”. As a coach I often feel I need to take care when interrupting the process that i do so without making group members feel criticised for not getting it right. Care needs to be taken to create an environment of mutual support and learning.

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    David Troupe

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    I am curious about the question and since I cannot pretend to know the intent, I would intervene by asking, “May I ask a question about Paul’s fascinating question? What was the intent of the question? (answers). Paul, what was your intent? (answer) What might be another question that would better fulfill your intent?(answer) What are some other ideas (answers from others). Paul, was that helpful?

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    Brendan Allen

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    Depending on the context, I would see how it impacted on the group’s process and address it as a learning opportunity in an intervention. I might ask the group whether they noticed that some questions are open and some are closed. I would ask them about what they thought were the best times to use each type. I would also ask them about when might not be a suitable time to use each type.

    In some cases this behaviour can be someone simply ‘dressing up’ a statement to make it look like a question. To bring this to the groups attention I might ask the group if they had noticed any statements pretending to be questions. This might also bring up the question of ‘If have something I really want to say, but I have not been asked a relevant question what can i do?’ Which can lead into so rich learning about leadership and communication skills.

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    Ann Boyum

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    Depending on where we are the process, I would probably smile and ask them to restate their thought in the form of a questions. The smile will send a message that we’re all new at this and that is a completely normal why of thinking and speaking (we do it all the time) so to normalize the tendancy, but stop the pattern or behavior from showing up again later. I’ve seen this work so well that eventaully the AL team member will catch him/her self or catch each other. I would make sure to ask the question “What’s the quality of our questions; and what could we do to improve them?” during the reflection session.

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    DrBea

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    Great answers. As many have said it would depend where we are in the process. Closed questions have a place particularly later in the process. However, if as Brendan said it’s just someone dressing up a statement to look like a question, any of the questions already mentioned would bring about the desired reflection. One other one I might use is – How curious are our questions?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Vishruta Mattu

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    I am completely in line with the comments above. It depends on the context whether intervention is required. If it happens often, and the other team members are not able to insert their ideas, I would say “what is the impact of asking closed ended questions in the team?” followed by “How is it affecting the quality of responses?” and “what does the team want to do about it?” and then “now, who’s got the next question?”

    And if i’m eating into too much time, I’ll just cut it off after the first two questions

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