Scenario: Why

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:

A participant asks another participant “why they asked a question”. The first participant is visibly disturbed. Your instinct is that they are reacting to the word “why” in that they feel the value of their question is being questioned.

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

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    Jonathan Tice

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    As an action learning coach I would pay close attention to this situation as there is a potential it could result in it being detrimental to the group’s learning. However, I would not immediately intervene as perhaps the disturbed participant is showing emotions and will not let it affect his or her performance. Also, possibly the participant is not used to being asked this type of question and it would be best to allow them the time to reflect and answer to potentially achieve a breakthrough solution.

    In any case, I would monitor the situation closely and if it becomes clear this is a disruption or a conflict between two people then I would intervene with the standard intervention. I would ask the group how they feel they are doing and give them an opportunity to reinforce the group norms. I might also consider offering an observation and asking the group what was the impact of this type of behavior. In any case, it is important to act in a humble, but confident manner when adjudicating potential conflict or disruptive behavior.

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    Rachel Wang

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    As an AL coach, I would intervene to have the first participant’s question being properly answered. Then I will check with the other participant whether there is any question regarding the ground rule. If it is a question about the ground rule, I will reinforce it by necessary clarification and/or asking other participants about their opinion. If not, I would tend to monitor the situation (if such “why” question happens again or the 1st participant’s emotion impacting performance) and may use it as a learning opportunity later.

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