Changing Conversations

According to Diana Whitney *, “. . . the questions we ask are fateful.” What she means by this is that the words, tones and emphasis of our questions can change conversations.

Think of a recent positive conversation. Probably the questions were things like, “Did you have a good day?” “What do you like to do on the weekend.” “What was your favorite part of your vacation?” “Did you learn anything new?” “Did you notice that Sam was being friendly and practicing his social skills.?

Then think of a conversation where the questions or statement were more negative. “Wasn’t work boring today?” “Did you notice that that woman was taking too much time?” “Why doesn’t he act like everyone else in the library?”

After I read this quote and thought about conversations I have had over time, I realized that I have an opportunity to change conversations. All I have to do is ask questions that lead into conversations about what is going well, what should we be doing more of, who else has the resources or talent we need.

I am going to start practicing (I do mean practicing because I won’t be perfect) the art of asking questions that lead to meaningful and productive conversations. Won’t you join me?

(Quote from Whitney, D. (2011). “What is Appreciative Inquiry?” in Conversations on Citizenship and Person-Centered Work. O’Brien, J. & Blessing, C. (ed.s) Toronto, CA: Inclusion Press.