Strategic Questioning ManualFran Peavey
CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTION: STRATEGIC QUESTIONS ARE TOOLS OF REBELLION
In these days of constant change, and the need for even more change if we are to live peacefully in ahealthy environment, we ask ourselves: "How can our organization weather the tides of constant reorganizationand restructuring and still maintain a clear vision of its mission?" "How can I make decisions about my futurethat will draw from the most interesting alternatives?" "How can we participate in the creation of social change?""How can a new vision arise in our organizations and societies?"I have been working on the concept of strategic questioning for some time
as a way of facilitating"dynamic" listening. I also call this an experiment in the developing field of communication theory,"communication of the second kind," since it is a special kind of communication. It creates new information anduncovers deep desires of the heart rather than communicating information already known.Communication of the first kind involves transmission of information in a static and passive voice. It isfocused on how reality is now. What is, is. Communication of the second kind, according to Mark Burch
whocoined the term, refers to the "immersion of the person in a vibrating, tingling, undulating ocean of 'transactions'." Communication of the second kind is focused on what could be, and upon the creation of active participation in present and future transactions. In a social, as well as a personal sense, we are involved in innate,spontaneous imagery, which organically draws us forward to appropriate realities of the future.Key elements of communication of the second kind which relate to strategic questioning are:1.
New information is synthesized from that which is already known.2.
Ownership of the new information is with the person who is answering the question.3.
Energy for change is generated in the communication process.4.
The answer to a powerful question is not always immediately known but will emerge over time.5.
Emotion sometimes accompanies the answering of a powerful question and this is part of releasing the blocks to new ideas.
I didn't invent the words "strategic questioning", although I thought I did. I had been using the term for four years when, a few years ago while doing some research, I came upon a small book about teaching calledStrategic Questioning. It was written by Ronald T. Hyman, a close friend of a college professor of mine. So Imust have heard the words 25 years ago and the word seeds got planted way back there in my mind; then when Ineeded them they came blossoming up. Thank you, Ronald T. Hyman.
My friend Mark Burch has helped me see that there are two kinds of communication. Communication of thefirst kind is about what is. It usually involves the transmission of information in a static or passive way. There isan assumption of inertia in the communication. "Things will stay the same." Communication of the second kindis focused on what reality could be. It creates information rather than communicating information that is alreadyknown. Mark Burch describes this as the "immersion of the person in a vibrating, tingling, undulating ocean of "transactions"...." (Depth Psychology and Sustainable Development, by Mark Burch, a private paper, August1991.) I see strategic questioning as an important skill in the development of this communication of the secondkind.