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Ask the right questions: What? – Part 2

Last week, we considered the first two “right” questions that can be asked of your team or coalition members.  While there could be many more – and some of these will vary depending upon your situation or who you are asking – this week we are focused on two more “right” questions that can be applied to many different situations, particularly when working in a coalition or a team.

  1. What do you recommend?  The second question from last week was “what could be improved?” Sometimes we can get stuck on those things that could be improved or those things that aren’t working well, but if you want to keep moving forward in a positive way, it’s important to help your team move toward solutions to the things that aren’t working as well and need improvement.  By asking this question, you move the conversation from the problem(s) to the solution(s). Similar to the “what could be improved” question, be ready to take action on the recommendations. If you ask the question and then do not implement any of the recommendations, they will be much less likely to take the time or effort to answer your question again in the future.  Be sure to thank them for providing recommendations and let them know how you plan to use the information they provided to you.
  2. What do you see that I (we) may not see? This is an important question to ask, particularly of those who may have different types of background, experiences or expertise than you. This is also something important to ask of those who may often disagree with you. You may not really want to know the answer to this question, but it is really helpful to see multiple different perspectives before taking action.  When the answer will have a major impact on the resources you put toward a particular strategy or intervention or whether it will help you determine your priorities for the next one, two or five years, this question can help you know whether you are moving in the right direction – or not. You don’t need complete agreement (or consensus) from everyone, but if you have a lot of people that recognize a potential barrier or challenge that you haven’t considered, then it makes sense to pause and consider their input before moving forward.

Although these are simple questions, the answers can provide very rich and beneficial information to inform your work with others. By asking these questions – and taking action on the responses – you encourage your members and partners to keep participating in the collective work because you value their input and are willing to take action on it. To learn more about the “why” visit my post from a couple of weeks ago.

So what about you? When have you found these questions beneficial or challenging in your work with teams and coalitions?

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