Re: Kids on Teamwork LO2963
Wed, 27 Sep 1995 21:21:26 -0400

Replying to LO2940 --

In LO2935, I wrote ....

>>A common response IMHO is 'Why are you asking that
>>question?' within seconds of the questioner having stated the
>>reason why.

In LO2940, Fides Matzdorf responded in part ....
(Also please see LO2939 - J Warfield for additional comments.)

>I have been on this list for a while, silently, but Dave's comments
triggered something off... Questions are often used _not_ to ask for
information, but in defensive or even aggressive way, eg as rhetorical
questions or implied criticism. People resort to this kind of
communication when they are not being assertive, ie they do not want to
take responsibility for making a statement, and therefore disguise it as a
question, eg 'Do you _really_ think this is a good idea?' instead of 'I
don't like your idea'.

Love the word presuppositions!! Feels like some within the responses to my
observation. Responding to these is extremely difficult since in hindsight
it feels like you could believe I set you up. Just the opposite. The
responses begin to explain to me what I was wondering about. I also have a
sudden potential breakthrough in understanding why others ask questions. I
thought they were doing it for the same reasons I do. Mainly to learn or
suspend conversation for a few minutes to add my thoughts.

Both responses make it feel like I have to have presuppositions. Would
like to open the door for us visual learners to have a more naive reason
for asking questions. As a visualizer, sometimes I simply don't understand
and need more information to complete an ACTUAL IMAGE IN MY MIND. An
incomplete image usually leaves me setting there smiling politely with
very little learning having occurred. It is like seeing a skyscraper in
fog with only a few windows showing. It could be any skyscraper or any
building or just windows hanging in the air or .....

My questions are typically asked in three ways:

1.) For pure learning - I ask the question by first stating I did not
under- stand and that additional explanation would help me. Then I state
the part I did not understand. Then I ask the question? I may paraphrase
after the response to ensure the VISUAL IMAGE IN MY MIND (for non-visuals,
this really is a picture which I see) is what the speaker intended to
convey to me. (In audiences where people do not know me, I will even say
that I am a VISUAL PERSON and part of the picture is missing or hazy even
before I ask the question.)

2.) For mind openers - I say - I want to bring three things to this
conversation: a.) A question; b) MY thoughts on the question and c.) A
restatement of the question since it may have been altered after I hear my
words out loud. Within this construct - I may even ask people to (using
some of the Argyris' coaching) to think along with me or help me think
through where I am stuck or help me understand if ....

3.) I ask a question for learning (as in 1); get a response and then say I
want to share my emerging perspective now that I have a basic
understanding (much like this thread has happened for me). I then add my
perspective along with my specific reasoning why.

The feedback (given in a nice way) I often get privately or in the group
setting is - Well, why don't you say what you really mean? (2 and 3) or
Well, why don't you give your opinion (1 - How can I? I am forming a
picture and until I have that picture, an opinion is impossible to form.)

After the meeting, others in the group or in the meeting quite often say
to me - "I was glad you asked the question. I didn't understand either and
was hoping someone (else) would ask?"

The responses from John Warfield in LO2939 and from Fides Martzdorf in
LO2940 begin to explain to me the complex undertones/overtones about
asking a question in the business world. Looks like I've got a lot of
reading to do on this one. Was this what the thread on suppositions/
presuppositions related to a while back ? If it was, I didn't get it since
no picture came into my mind at the time. If it was, I'll go back and dig
the thread out of the archives.

Does this mean that I have to go into a long dissertation about my visual
learning style in any new group prior to asking my simple (presupposition
being that I cannot see a complete picture) learning question? Sounds too
complex to me.

By the way, the personal discovery in 1970 of learning by forming pictures
in my mind created this lifelong interest in learning (and also extremely
higher grades in college). For anyone interested in unimportant trivia, it
is also why I initially nabbed onto this LO stuff. Sue Miller Hurst
initially caught my imagination with her dancing, background music,
metaphors, storytelling, and laughing on stage at the 1993 Sys Thkg in
Action Conf. She got me hooked by inviting various learning styles to be
present during her session. This is one of the few sessions in my life
that drew on my strongest areas for learning - visual images, music, and
laughter. For those who have seen Sue, you may understand my experience.
If you were there, I'm the left-handed mechanical person.

One last thought - perhaps a naive acceptance of people asking questions
with no evil intent (evil - presuppositions which differ from mine) will
be a part of the metanoic shift of TEAMS LEARNING? Is a little bit of
innocence, naiveti, my trust of your GOOD INTENTIONS needed for dialogue?
PS - Many groups in my local church invite Penny (my wife) and me to be a
part of their work. They say we ask good questions which HELP them think
and that not too many people will ask the questions we do. The two of us
are valued as much for our questions as our answers in church!! PPS - Our
church is also learning how to grow and they actually use the words

Have a great and fulfilling day!!

Dave Buffenbarger
Organizational Improvement Coach
Dow Chemical Company
(517) 638-7080

Life can be - Innocence of a babe and wonders of the world.