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Being Open Minded Makes For A Better Questioner!

This week I was reminded of the importance and challenges of being open minded when you wish to be a successful Potentialiser. I personally find that many people say that they are open minded but when it comes to the practice of it; they don’t demonstrate the skill very well. This is particularly evident I believe, if your role in some way suggests that you are an expert or adviser as there is enormous pressure for you to conform and oblige by providing a lot of advice giving, suggestions or answers.

I was interested to hear from a lady that works at a school that she was impressed that one of her teacher colleagues was open minded because she was willing to acknowledge that her students knew more about technology than she did. In fact she was often seen acknowledging her students for helping her own learning, which of course is a great thing to do. Indeed, being prepared for someone to know more or should I say better than you is a great trait to bring to your role as a Potentialiser.

What intrigued me after this conversation was my own reflection around wondering whether this teacher would be so willing to hear what her students had to contribute or offer in response to question on a topic that she wasn’t so lacking in knowledge on. An interesting thought!
I usually find that when people (myself included) are confident and knowledgeable on a topic they easily skip into teacher/adviser mode on the basis that they believe that they know best. How challenging, then is it to acknowledge in these instances that the student (or whomever you are speaking with) could indeed know better/more/different to you and by asking Better Questions you can tap into and release this wisdom. It is all too easy to assume that you are the expert and to offer up your own ideas without even attempting to find out what the other person knows.

I had a great example of this recently when a Maternal & Child Health nurse was visiting a new Mum in her community and was ready to relay information to her on SIDS. However, before she started relaying the ‘script’ she stopped and thought about how she could approach her role by bringing the skills of a Potentialiser to the table. So she asked the Mum what she knew about SIDS and was quite surprised to hear the Mum reply that she was very well read on the topic and subsequently was able to relay the key points that ordinarily the nurse would articulate. Not only did this save time it also validated the Mum and made her feel more confident and respected.

So next time you are about to launch into ‘telling’, maybe check on what the other person already knows first, you may be very pleasantly surprised and indeed may learn something yourself in the process.

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