Become a Learner with Appreciative inquiry

This article is based on the book “Change your questions, change your life” written by Adams Marilee. She explains that our behaviors are impacted by our thoughts, emotions and the circumstances we live in. We have two possible reactions which depend on the type of questions we ask ourselves (unconsciously most of the time). Those questions impact our behavior and emotional state. Understanding the impact of those questions allows to face issues with a more positive view. It empower us to make better decisions and improve our emotional state.

The first types of questions are opened ones. They have a positive impact on our behaviors and emotional state. They are called Learner questions. The other types of questions are called Judger questions because they blame either ourselves or other people for our current situation. The consequences of such questioning will badly impact our behavior and emotional state. Learner and Judger questions are listed bellow with a list of consequences.



It is preferable to be in a Learner mode as the consequences of this questioning are way better than the one from Judger. It is then interesting to know how to switch from a Judger position to a Learner one. The main question is: Are you able to evaluate in which mode you are? As written before, we may not be aware of our unconscious questioning. Self-Awareness can be challenging to develop as it requires to pause for a minute and listen to ourselves. Our bodies have unique ways to communicate with us. Some people can feel back pain, tight shoulders, or migraine when they are in the Judger mode. How do you feel in stressful situations?

If you want to use appreciative inquiry you need to listen to yourself. You have to make the conscious effort to observe yourselves and your reactions when you are in Judger mode. Once you identified your personal reaction you can switch to Learner by simply asking learners questions; such as below:


You may hope that once you acknowledge the existence of Judger it will disappear. Unfortunately, it is in the human nature to come back to Judger. In this case, we have to develop our self-awareness so that we can detect the moment when we become a Judger and ask switching questions.

Appreciative inquiry can also be used in group to resolve problems. This tool is called Q-storming as it is based on the idea of Brain-storming, It consists of asking learner questions in group regarding an issue. The questions lead the group to better understand the roots of the problem.

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