Conflict resolution professionals need strong communication skills and deep insight in order to help our clients resolve conflict in a meaningful way. Asking questions is one of the vital communication skills in our conflict resolution toolbox. We ask questions to aid in understanding. We intend to be helpful and open, so when we get a defensive or resistant reaction, we wonder, “What went wrong?” In some instances, our well-intentioned questions lead to a factual enquiry about “what happened?” which is a great lead-in to the “Blame Game”. Other times, our questions can steer the conversation where we want it to go, either because we are missing the cues that allow us to follow the client’s lead, or because we are uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is taking and we do not want to be uncomfortable. There are so many ways our questions can impact conflict and understanding, it’s no wonder many of us are apprehensive about what to ask and how to ask it.
Hopefully, we have all felt the joy of a question that led to brilliant, illuminating insight! Over the next few weeks, I want to offer some suggestions as to how we can do this more. I have an idea that it boils down to being effectively and authentically curious. Watch this Blog for more ideas about:
• What kinds of questions support curiosity?
• How can asking questions resolve conflict?
• What judgments are hidden (or apparent!) in our questions?
• What should we be asking about?
• What does listening have to do with questioning?
I’ve been lucky enough to learn from my own experiment with curiosity, and to have found mentors to support me on my journey away from judgment. I’ll introduce you to them, as well. See you soon!