Our first client blog by Geraldine Stinton, NI YMCA

Somebody once said too much of a good thing can be wonderful and we certainly had a wonderful day with Charlie and Larraine here on Monday 10th November at Belfast YMCA.  The Questions of Difference team brought excitement and brilliance to 28 youth and community workers and teachers from across N. Ireland as they took us on a journey of thoughtfulness and reflection.

The group gelled through their passion for working effectively with children and young people in a range of settings.  There was a good old fashioned positive energy around the room all day and everyone was up for building new connections and relationships, being challenged and learning to look at life and work from a different lens.

The day began with some speed dating, Larraine got us up, moving and asking questions to get to know one another and Charlie set the scene asking what we noticed about the questions asked and the language used.

As the morning moved along, we had the chance to explore the range of questions we use and are known for.  This gave rise to good conversations around the questions that we would like to be known for and enabled us to think about the principles I would like to hold when thinking about and before asking questions.

The morning ended with a challenging introduction to the Back Pocket Question alongside a discussion around the ART of questioning which struck a chord with most people in the room.

The afternoon began with a thought provoking energiser which led into a session around assumptions.  We buddied up and engaged with somebody we didn’t know and considered the assumptions we hold about ourselves and others – how do they influence us and what are some of the assumptions that will help develop us as leaders?  We were introduced to the 7 Assumptions of Partnering and moved around the room reflecting on these.

The session ended with some reflections and a few more stories from Charlie – the buzz and energy in the room was still high and people left feeling positive and determined to link in with their new buddy, consider their principles when asking questions and hold on to some of the powerful, positive assumptions that had been discussed.

If you asked me what I learned from the day I would say:

  • Language is powerful and gentle and should be thoughtfully used
  • There’s often is no such thing as the right answer and we should liberate ourselves from thinking we need to have all the answers
  • Relationships are vital
  • I can be thoughtful about the question I ask, but cannot control how a question is heard. There are a variety of lenses of looking at and hearing questions and statements
  • My art is not your art
  • Think carefully about my purpose in asking a question or making a statement. People and organisations go in the direction we question them
  • We have impact whether we like it or not
  • Be present in conversations. Be honest to yourself and others