This is part of a series of interviews conducted by Kate Larose, GLP's Director of Strategic Partnerships, with people who believe deeply in the power of dialogue to influence learning that lasts. Today's interview is with GLP Partner, Christine Little.
[Chris facilitating a knowledge sharing event in Rwanda for United Nations Capital Development Fund in Rwanda. Due to Ebola outrbreak travel restrictions, half of the audience ended up having to join in virtually at the last minute.]
Kate Larose (Kate): What’s your favorite axiom, and why?
Christine Little (Chris): Telling is not teaching. And, I would broaden that last word. Telling is also not leading. Telling is not creating the change. In the world of organizational change, there is a lot of emphasis on getting your story straight, mapping the path and selling it. We talk about "drilling down" and "rolling out" our message. We spend too much time building our slide deck, and not enough time inquiring, listening and learning.
[Chris (left) with GLP Partner Valerie Uccellani (right). A day at the beach during the GLP annual retreat.]
Kate: Name 3-5 of your favorite facilitation skills. Describe what you use them for and why they’re favorites.
Chris: The open question. A good question unleashes our best thinking. It surfaces ideas and feelings. It makes undiscussables discussable. Even a confusing question, or an ambiguous question works. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be authentic, a question where I am genuinely curious about how it will be answered. That genuine curiosity leads to my next favorite skill…
Listening. If I am genuinely curious about what others are thinking, then I listen as they answer. I hear their words and want to discover the meaning behind those words. I don't feel responsible for resolving all their doubts, or interjecting my own experience. I can let go of my need to be helpful, and instead, create the space for others to explore, make meaning.
Silence. Sitting quietly with our thoughts, even in a room full of people. We don't have enough of this in organizations. We are driven to produce. We have all those emails to answer. We have meetings scheduled in half-hour increments. So we are thinking and talking at the same time, often while checking our phones. I used to think silence was a waste of precious face time. Now I think of this as an investment in the preciousness of that face time.
[Chris at UPEACE with fellow facilitator and Education 2.0 course participants.]
Kate: When you attend learning events that are not learning centered, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
Chris: Pet peeve: "participation" instead of dialogue. It looks like this: questions that are designed to elicit a right answer, rather that questions that are designed to elicit something new. Activities that are designed to alleviate boredom, rather than activities that are designed to put the question to the group. When doubts or disagreements are placed in the "parking lot" rather than explored or at least acknowledged.