A Question Technique for Difficult Group Discussions

Here is a practical tool for taking the competition out of difficult discussions, such as how we explain the uprising in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s death.

The facilitator sets this simple rule:

No one should make a declarative statement. Only questions are written on the board.

If one feels compelled to make a statement, the facilitator helps convert the statement into a question.

As questions accumulate, a kind of gestalt of collective concerns appears.

The most important lessons are:

  1. That there will always be many more questions than answers
  2. That the answers are in the group, not just in one individual (leader, teacher, authority)
  3. That dialogue means hearing all questioning voices (the loud, the soft-spoken, and the silent)

Here are images from a class discussion the morning after an evening of civil disturbance in Baltimore.

Everyone takes out a camera and captures the images on the board.

Looking to achieve some consensus, we then ask for interpretations of what all the questions taken together might mean.

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