Cultivate your questions carefully

Last week I went on a training course. In these situations I tend to be either very engaged or very agitated.

As this course was well designed and facilitated, I found myself highly engaged and time flew by.

There was just one occasion where I felt out of sync.

A prompt was put on the screen. It was a question for us to discuss in pairs.

The facilitator had used the word ‘inject’; we were discussing how it would look to inject something into an organisation.

I couldn’t get my mind away from what this word did to the question. We’d been talking about embedding and cultivating, now we were talking about injecting.

This one word completely changed the conversation. What did an injection do that cultivation didn’t? 

Perhaps it suggested a drug that could wear off, or even a placebo? Maybe it was the big push a company needed – the shock of the new substance entering the bloodstream.

To his credit, the facilitator went with us. Instead of closing things off, he encouraged us to try on both words in the question. It led two very different but equally valuable conversations, and opened a whole new line of enquiry on the topic at hand.

And as it happened, he’d only changed the prescription from ‘cultivate’ to ‘inject’ a few minutes before the session started.

It’s amazing what a word can do.

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