Scenario: Poignant Question

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: A particularly poignant question is asked. This is followed by a long silence.

Tags: Action Learning, ActionLearning Coach, Team Coach, WIAL, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

Comments (9)

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    Christian Manlapaz

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    Its an opportunity for an intervention. I would ask, what is the silence about? How is the question of the member reflecting on you or your work? What are possible scenarios that can happen if this question is not discussed. How will you move forward or if you have experienced a similar feeling or situation, how did you handle it?

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    Samantha Cinnick

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    One way I might intervene would be to say, “I noticed a long pause after that last question. What might it mean that there is silence after this question?” Then I would let the group answer why they think there was silence. I would then follow up with a “so what” and a “now what” question based on why the group thinks there is silence.

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    Aparna Jindal

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    Would anyone like to answer this question,would anyone like to highlight the benefits of finding answer to this question, will this question create a learning opportunities for the team, if the team gives positive response then ask now would anyone like to answer. If response is negative then would the group like to move on with another question?

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    Anurag Sharma

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    I would be comfortable with the long silence and allow it to linger for a reasonable period of time. If the silence persists I would ask the following questions
    1. (to the person at whom the question was directed) What’s coming up for you as a result of that question?
    And build further on the response I get.
    2. (to the group) What’s coming up for the group?
    3. (to the person who asked that question) In what ways did you suppose looking for an answer to that question would help in making progress towards solving the problem?
    4. (to all) What do we feel would be the best way forward from here?

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      Elodie Schwartz

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      Hi Sharma, I completely agree with allowing silence to linger for a reasonable period of time. But could you clarify if you would ask one of these questions you mentionned or all of them?

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    Saravanan Palaniappan

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    I would ask, “Team, what is going on? ”
    I would ask the team members to say out 2 things out of their upon reflecting on the poignant question and follow through the session.

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    Puja Vijay

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    I agree on many of the valuable comments and approach people have offered on this page. These deep poignant questions are the breakthrough points where one cannot have a quick immediate answer. Its important not to let go of the opportunity where the one to whom the question was addressed might have a great learning opportunity, which possibly is the reason for the silence/reflection. The intervention that seems appropriate is to ask the person: What are the thoughts coming to your mind at this stage? Are you comfortable to share it with the group?

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    Nguyễn Thanh Triều

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    When a particularly poignant question is asked. Followed by a long silence. The intervention of the coach was absolutely necessary in the case of 60 seconds without any answer in my opinion. A silence deep enough for the members to find the best answer. “Who can respond first?” Or “which member exactly would this question be answered first?” “Who wants to share the answer for the group to learn together?”

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    Ming Hui Cheng

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    I would intervene with, “Team, I noticed a long silence. What’s coming up for you right now?”, to give them an opportunity to process any discomfort or co-create a safe space before addressing the question per se. I might add, “How could we support each other when similar questions come up again?”

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