Scenario: Nerve Hit

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: An extraordinarily deep question is asked. The responder sits quietly for a minute than begins to weep.  

Tags: Action Leaning, Action Learning Coach, WIAL, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

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    Jonah Fabul

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    As an action learning coach, I will take a mental note of that powerful question and use it during the reflection. I will observe carefully and try to understand what she/he will share with the group. I will provide support by handing over a tissue to the member and ask if he/she is ready to answer the question or needs more time. The session will continue if the member is willing to answer the question. If more time is needed, I will remind the group to practice their leadership competency and ask any from the group to ask the next question.

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    Rosana Nucci

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    I would give the responder a minute and then intevene by saying “Do you need another minute? do you think we should continue?”. If the respondent is willing to continue I’d ask the group who has the next question. If not, I’d ask the group “Did you notice how powerful the questions we asked are? XX feels we should not continue. How do we want to address that?” The group is likely to respect the respondent’s wish, so we’d move on to the reflection.

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    Andrew Christopher

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    This depends on the type of personalities I’m working with. Most times, if this happened, the other group members would be supportive and willing to keep the responder a moment, which is my instinct. The responder need the space to feel those feelings because they’ve probably been pent up for awhile.

    If TOO much time passed, I would maybe give a subtle prompt to the group to help them acknowledge the value of asking great questions and then maybe prompt them to form a norm for how they want to respond to the impact of asking great questions (e.g., group takes a break, tables the discussion).

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    Myrte van Grieken

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    The calm to let the crying be the answer is already very valuable.
    Then it is up to her whose sad to give the answer. Very often by giving space the answer comes, or does someone who is familiar with this person ask a reassuring question.
    Recognition for her emotions is powerfull for course of the session.

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    GEOVANA FATIMA DE OLIVEIRA MAGALHAES

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    After a minute or two, I would ask the person, “How do you feel about the question? Do you want to answer it?” or “Do you feel comfortable to answer this question?”; “How do you want to proceed?”; If the person chooses to change the focus, I ask the group “Who has the next question?”

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    Mecaela Paula Peralta

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    I would give the team member a moment, and take note of the question. If other members pass tissue or give a reassuring pat, and I see that he/she is open to it, then I will let them. If not, then I will have to gently ask him/her how we can support her.

    If after a while, he/she is still unable to proceed, I will gently ask him/her how to proceed.
    a. If he/she decides to proceed, I will ask if he/she is open to answering the question.
    b. If he/she decides to step out, I will ask him/her how the group can support him/her. When he/she has stepped out, I will do a check-in with the group by asking, “In 1 word, how are you feeling?” (Depending on the group’s answers, follow-up questions may be necessary.) I will then ask the group how they would like to proceed.

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