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How to ask good questions

Tal Raviv
April 07, 2019

How to ask good questions

Tal Raviv

April 07, 2019
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  1. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how to
    ask good
    questions

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  2. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    I’ve always been “that guy”

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  3. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    and they’ve always been called “Tal questions”

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  4. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    (def: dumb questions that
    are [mostly] appreciated)

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  5. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car

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  6. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car
    throughout 12 years of school

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  7. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car
    throughout 12 years of school
    certainly in college

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  8. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car
    throughout 12 years of school
    certainly in college
    in work meetings

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  9. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car
    throughout 12 years of school
    certainly in college
    in work meetings
    while getting taught things

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  10. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    as a five year old watching
    the mechanic fix the family car
    throughout 12 years of school
    certainly in college
    in work meetings
    while getting taught things
    and at the doctor’s office

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  11. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    I ask a lot of dumb questions

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  12. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    like, a lot

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  13. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    good
    questions
    are healthy

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  14. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    good questions are the

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  15. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    good questions are the

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  16. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    good questions are the

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  17. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    inoculation
    good questions are the

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  18. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    inoculation
    sunlight
    good questions are the

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  19. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    inoculation
    sunlight
    chaos monkey*
    good questions are the

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  20. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    inoculation
    sunlight
    chaos monkey*
    of knowledge
    good questions are the

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  21. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    tire kicks
    stress test
    inoculation
    sunlight
    chaos monkey*
    of knowledge
    good questions are the
    *A great tech term I learned: it’s software that breaks your
    infrastructure on purpose to find problems early

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  22. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    good questions are the

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  23. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    good questions are the

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  24. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    good questions are the

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  25. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    cross pollinators
    good questions are the

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  26. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    cross pollinators
    shakers
    good questions are the

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  27. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    cross pollinators
    shakers
    mattocks*
    good questions are the

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  28. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    cross pollinators
    shakers
    mattocks*
    of communication
    good questions are the

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  29. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    blenders
    stirrers
    cross pollinators
    shakers
    mattocks*
    of communication
    good questions are the
    *Like a plough or a tiller but really basic and for hard soil. Thanks Wikipedia!

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  30. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  31. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  32. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  33. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    are hiding something
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  34. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    are hiding something
    are at their edge
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  35. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    are hiding something
    are at their edge
    won’t last long-term
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  36. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    are hiding something
    are at their edge
    won’t last long-term
    are unfair or unhealthy
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  37. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    are likely insecure
    are pretty fragile
    are hiding something
    are at their edge
    won’t last long-term
    are unfair or unhealthy
    think about that teacher, religion, social
    context, organization, institution, practice,
    leader etc. that didn’t like questions
    systems and people that
    dont like questions

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  38. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    i got really lucky

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  39. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    my dad
    my mom
    my best friends
    my culture
    my professors
    my bosses
    i got really lucky

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  40. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    my dad
    my mom
    my best friends
    my culture
    my professors
    my bosses
    [for the most part] were delighted
    when I asked questions
    i got really lucky

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  41. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    so

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  42. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how to
    ask good
    questions

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  43. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    it’s three things you already know how to do:

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  44. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb
    it’s three things you already know how to do:

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  45. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb
    be dumb out loud
    it’s three things you already know how to do:

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  46. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb
    be dumb out loud
    be dumb kindly
    it’s three things you already know how to do:

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  47. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    we all know how to do these

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  48. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    we all know how to do these
    and they’re still hard work

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  49. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be
    dumb

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  50. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    play it in your head

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  51. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    put yourself in the person’s shoes
    play it in your head

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  52. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    put yourself in the person’s shoes
    imagine the system working
    play it in your head

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  53. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    put yourself in the person’s shoes
    imagine the system working
    visualize it happening
    play it in your head

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  54. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    put yourself in the person’s shoes
    imagine the system working
    visualize it happening
    build a mental model
    play it in your head

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  55. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    put yourself in the person’s shoes
    imagine the system working
    visualize it happening
    build a mental model
    …is that hard to do? Good!
    play it in your head

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  56. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated

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  57. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    why doesn’t it connect?
    feel frustrated

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  58. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    why doesn’t it connect?
    what feels blurry?
    feel frustrated

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  59. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    why doesn’t it connect?
    what feels blurry?
    are there missing puzzle pieces?
    feel frustrated

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  60. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    why doesn’t it connect?
    what feels blurry?
    are there missing puzzle pieces?
    is there a term you don’t understand?
    feel frustrated

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  61. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    why doesn’t it connect?
    what feels blurry?
    are there missing puzzle pieces?
    is there a term you don’t understand?
    is there a missing “why”
    feel frustrated

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  62. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    the more effort you put into trying to really
    wrap your head around something,
    the more gaps you’ll notice

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  63. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how often does this process happen?
    feel frustrated

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  64. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how often does this process happen?
    how many people are there?
    feel frustrated

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  65. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how often does this process happen?
    how many people are there?
    what isn’t important here?
    feel frustrated

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  66. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how often does this process happen?
    how many people are there?
    what isn’t important here?
    what if this didn’t take place?
    feel frustrated

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  67. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how often does this process happen?
    how many people are there?
    what isn’t important here?
    what if this didn’t take place?
    how do they get that number?
    feel frustrated

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  68. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    pay attention to any
    “black boxes” or assumptions
    let them bother you

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  69. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?

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  70. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?
    how do we even know that??

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  71. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?
    how do we even know that??
    that’s a big list, what’s the main driver?

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  72. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?
    how do we even know that??
    that’s a big list, what’s the main driver?
    why is that fact a given?

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  73. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?
    how do we even know that??
    that’s a big list, what’s the main driver?
    why is that fact a given?
    where did that constraint come from?

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  74. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    feel frustrated
    what does that acronym mean?
    how do we even know that??
    that’s a big list, what’s the main driver?
    why is that fact a given?
    where did that constraint come from?
    why doesn’t it add up in my brain????

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  75. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    “frustration with a mental model”
    is also known as “curiosity”

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  76. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    notice that frustration!

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  77. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    don’t let go of the gaps!

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  78. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    and then,

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  79. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be
    dumb

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  80. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    part of asking good questions

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  81. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    part of asking good questions
    is asking them

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  82. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    being dumb out loud is scary

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  83. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    being dumb out loud is scary
    what if everyone else already knows the
    answer?

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  84. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  85. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    then why are you different?
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  86. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    then why are you different?
    are you new?
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  87. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    then why are you different?
    are you new?
    are you there to collaborate?
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  88. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    then why are you different?
    are you new?
    are you there to collaborate?
    are you there to learn?
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  89. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    then why are you different?
    are you new?
    are you there to collaborate?
    are you there to learn?
    …there’s probably a legit reason!
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  90. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    …if it’s a legit reason,
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  91. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    …if it’s a legit reason,
    good people will appreciate you
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  92. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    …if it’s a legit reason,
    good people will appreciate you
    it means you care
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  93. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    …if it’s a legit reason,
    good people will appreciate you
    it means you care
    it means you listen
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  94. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    …if it’s a legit reason,
    good people will appreciate you
    it means you care
    it means you listen
    it means they trust you to speak up
    say everyone else
    already knows

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  95. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either

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  96. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either
    is it a fledgling idea?

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  97. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either
    is it a fledgling idea?
    is it being communicated vaguely?

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  98. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either
    is it a fledgling idea?
    is it being communicated vaguely?
    are first principles unclear?

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  99. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either
    is it a fledgling idea?
    is it being communicated vaguely?
    are first principles unclear?
    are they taking facts for granted?

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  100. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    now what if no one
    else knows either
    is it a fledgling idea?
    is it being communicated vaguely?
    are first principles unclear?
    are they taking facts for granted?
    …they’ll appreciate you asked!

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  101. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    if people around you aren’t asking questions

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  102. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    if people around you aren’t asking questions
    it’s either because they’re not trying to
    understand

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  103. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    if people around you aren’t asking questions
    it’s either because they’re not trying to
    understand
    or they are, and they’re not saying anything

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  104. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    it’s become a point of pride for me
    to ask my dumb questions

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  105. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    it’s become a point of pride for me
    to ask my dumb questions
    and if people laugh,
    something’s wrong with them not me

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  106. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    it’s become a point of pride for me
    to ask my dumb questions
    and if people laugh,
    something’s wrong with them not me
    (good people don’t laugh at dumb questions)

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  107. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    This is easier said than done
    I’m lucky to have this behavior positively
    reinforced [for the most part]

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  108. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    but think about it:

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  109. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    confident experienced
    people ask
    dumb questions

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  110. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    confident experienced
    people ask
    dumb questions
    have you noticed how the people who’ve been
    around for the longest are the ones that ask
    the simplest dumbest questions?

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  111. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    confident experienced
    people ask
    dumb questions
    have you noticed how the people who’ve been
    around for the longest are the ones that ask
    the simplest dumbest questions?
    FYI: If you ask dumb simple questions,
    they’ll appreciate and trust you more

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  112. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    though, one last thing,

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  113. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be
    dumb
    kindly

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  114. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    the problem with asking dumb questions
    is that dumb questions cut deep

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  115. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    people may feel like
    youre attacking them

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  116. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    questioning their competence
    people may feel like
    youre attacking them

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  117. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    questioning their competence
    cross examining their testimony
    people may feel like
    youre attacking them

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  118. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    questioning their competence
    cross examining their testimony
    arm wrestling them
    people may feel like
    youre attacking them

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  119. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    I’ve definitely felt this way
    and I’ve definitely made others feel this way

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  120. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    it doesn’t matter what your intentions are
    it doesn’t help in the moment

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  121. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    so

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  122. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    how can you add energy
    with your questions

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  123. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    have a good relationship
    [okay, duh, so barring that…]
    how can you add energy
    with your questions

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  124. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    have a good relationship
    [okay, duh, so barring that…]
    make it clear you trust they know their stuff
    how can you add energy
    with your questions

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  125. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    have a good relationship
    [okay, duh, so barring that…]
    make it clear you trust they know their stuff
    make it clear the problem is in your brain
    not their brain
    how can you add energy
    with your questions

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  126. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    “I want to make sure I am following you…”
    “I may have missed this part…”
    “I’m new to this so I don’t understand…”
    “I’m not an expert here at all…”
    make it about your brain
    not their brain

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  127. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    those are just tactics though

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  128. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    you gotta genuinely believe
    the gaps are in your brain, not theirs

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  129. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    “Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we
    can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it
    instinctive.
    It involves a kind of vulnerability— a willingness to be
    surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity.
    The listener wants to understand the humanity behind
    the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own
    best self and one’s own best words and questions.”
    Krista Tippett

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  130. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    so before we go
    some clarifications

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  131. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    questions
    that arent
    good

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  132. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    devil’s advocate questions that focus on
    “why this won’t work”
    (instead of asking how it can)
    be dumb doesnt mean

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  133. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    devil’s advocate questions that focus on
    “why this won’t work”
    (instead of asking how it can)
    questions that hold “lack of perfection”
    against an idea
    (instead of focusing on what matters)
    be dumb doesnt mean

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  134. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    trying to catch people in inconsistencies or
    contradictions, prosecutor style
    be dumb doesnt mean

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  135. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    trying to catch people in inconsistencies or
    contradictions, prosecutor style
    “why” questions that unravel things
    too far back to be useful, four year old style
    be dumb doesnt mean

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  136. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    “[W]e trade mostly in answers— competing
    answers— and in questions that corner, incite,
    or entertain. In journalism we have a love
    affair with the ‘tough’ question, which is
    often an assumption masked as an inquiry
    and looking for a fight.

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  137. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    “[W]e trade mostly in answers— competing
    answers— and in questions that corner, incite,
    or entertain. In journalism we have a love
    affair with the ‘tough’ question, which is
    often an assumption masked as an inquiry
    and looking for a fight.

    My only measure of the strength of a question
    now is in the honesty and eloquence it elicits.”
    Krista Tippett

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  138. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    out loud doesnt mean
    taking up other’s time with your questions

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  139. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    out loud doesnt mean
    taking up other’s time with your questions
    holding things up if you don’t get an answer

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  140. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    kindly doesnt mean
    overly careful and apologetic

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  141. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    kindly doesnt mean
    overly careful and apologetic
    so indirect that it’s hard to follow

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  142. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    kindly doesnt mean
    overly careful and apologetic
    so indirect that it’s hard to follow
    (working on the west coast, I have to ask people
    to say things again, simpler)

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  143. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    you get it

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  144. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    so

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  145. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    ask
    good
    questions

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  146. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb

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  147. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb
    be dumb out loud

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  148. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be dumb
    be dumb out loud
    be dumb kindly

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  149. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    be the

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  150. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    that’s it!

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  151. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    kindly

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  152. @talraviv
    talraviv.org
    talraviv.org

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