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23 January 2010

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That's an important point Paul. Too often, ideas can be discarded without consideration, because people throw up the 'walls' and go into defence mode, when they meet a concept that doesn't fit with 'how they know it is' in the world. Many times, it is to their detriment. The approach we take to presenting an idea can make all the difference, and getting past that automatic defence system is critical to the outcome we will get.

@ lindy Great point. By asking question you may also come up with ideas neither of you or the person resisting thought of. It's a great way to think through a problem. It outlines the challenges your solution will face, and develop a strategy for success.

The Socratic method was meant to "draw out" the answer from a student. It operated under the belief that we intuitively know the answers. It's use was mostly in a student teacher relationship, which is hierarchical. Therefore, one needs to be diplomatic to avoid it sounding like an interrogation. Questions that begin with the 5 W's and 'how' work better than the Perry Mason type "isn't true..." but even those can back fire. One can ask a client, "Why did you meet with me?" versus "What led you to meet with me? One asks about the process, the other asks for a reason/justification. Obvious? Perhaps, but not to everyone because I have had both asked of me. I found questions are extremely powerful for getting people to explore consequences in non-threatening way. If people do not understand the magnitude and implications of their problem, they will take no action.

Excellent point Gregg.

It does make such a difference how questions are asked - the words, the tonality and the overall ambience (I can't think of a better word).

The more natural the conversation feels and the more nurturing the better.

You certainly don't want to make the other person nervous and defensive.

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