Strategic Questioning

Fran Peavey's Strategic Questioning is a way of talking with people with whom you have differences without abandoning your own beliefs and yet looking for common ground which may enable both parties to co-create a new path from the present situation. In every heart there is ambiguity; in every ideology there are parts that don’t fit.


A Strategic Question [excerpts below from CruxCatalyst]:

  • creates motion – enables the structure of the conversation to move from the static to the dynamic
  • creates options – looks for alternatives (while avoiding questions which suggest a specific alternative eg. ‘have you considered…?’), instead asking what else is possible
  • avoids ‘why’? questions – such questions ask people to defend or justify their position, or talk about the present in terms of the past
  • avoids ‘yes/no’ answers – ask questions which defuse dualistic, binary thinking (which sees things in terms of black/white, either/or, right/wrong) by getting people to do some ‘thinking work’, and moving them from a passive into a creative state
  • is empowering – allowing someone to take what is already in their head and develop it further, rather than putting ideas into their head
  • asks the ‘unaskable’ – there is tremendous power in asking ‘taboo’ questions, as such questions are usually unaskable because they challenge the values and assumptions on which something is based
  • is a simple, not compound question – addresses one thing at a time, and minimises the need for analysis