Dealing with Reality: Why it is important to Up-Date Our Mental Maps?

“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”  Dr. Scott Peck Author 

Remember the Socratic way of teaching–asking questions help learners discover the answers. This method gets people more involved in learning through critical thinkimg and makes the learning more relevant to their life.

Socratic questioning illuminates the importance of questioning in learning Socrates stated that questioning was the only defensible form of teaching. It illuminates the difference between systematic and fragmented thinking. It teaches us to dig beneath the surface of our ideas. It teaches us the value of developing questioning minds in cultivating deep learning. The art of Socratic questioning is intimately connected with because the art of questioning is important to excellence of thought. What the word “Socratic” adds to the art of questioning is depth  and interest in assessing the truth or more information about others and the situations they are confronting.

Other people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them as uninformed or incompetent. In fact asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers.

 Finally some people are in such a hurry to get things done that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong into the wrong actions.

As politicians, peers, friends, or family members, colleagues or managers we can check assumptions, gain more information and better understanding of the problem or opportunity by first asking questions. Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other person or people a chance to give broad answers and they open up the discussion . Examples of open questions are:

•What obstacles keep the government from bailing out home owners?

•Why do you think this economic crisis has happened?

. What are the reasons that hardly anyone on Wall Street or in the Banker’s world have not been prosecuted?

•What are all the factors that might have caused this problem?

•How can we protect ourselves from future melt downs of the economy?

•Where do private banks responsibility end and government authority through regulation begin?

•Tell me more about your personal experiences in securing your personal assets?

Our questions should not be scripted because as we actively listen and tune-in to responses we can spontaneously formulate more in-depth and probing questions. Be patient in your responses and avoid interrupting the speaker. The desire to state our ideas, insights, points of view and wisdom is hard to resist. The method of asking questions to deepen our understanding and provides more clarity of the issues before root problems can be identified and critical decisions made.

Asking many questions is very effective because it builds understanding and provides information about the problem and the person’s point of view. It is important that we bring closure to one topic of interest before moving on to more questions because the interaction maybe be perceived as an interrogation and threatening rather than as a friendly way to connect and gather pertinent information. Try to pose each question in a calm way and ensure that your non-verbal language is relaxed and engaging. Do not jab your index finger like the “critical parent” but try to speak with own and welcoming hand jesters.

Try to practicing more open-ended questions in conversations to provide time for thoughtful reflection instead of telling someone what you think or immediately provide advise or try to solve their problem– ask them a question and you will be perceived as caring, open, and engaging person. Questions help us to teach as well as to learn from others. It also provides a wonderful time for people to self-discover the best answer for meeting their needs.

If you are open to new thinking and renewal the lessons life offers will enhance your ability to develop and grow your mental maps. … if not you may be sleep walking through life. 

If it is obvious that asking questioning is a powerful way of learning–So why do we stop asking questions? For some people the reason is that they think that they have learned all there is to know on a subject? Others like to hear themselves talk and control conversations. Some people become bored, lazy or worn down by fighting the same battles for change year in and year out.  They want to maintain their comfort level by holding onto old and tried and true “mental maps”, assumptions, solutions or ideas which they believe are correct and unchanging. For example, cutting taxes leads to a strong economy. They rely on old solutions because they only gather information to fit their present mental maps and beliefs. If they become open to new approaches they risk having to change their view points which make them feel uncomfortable. This maintenance of old maps leads them to be stuck in the past. And many times they end up failing by trying to maintain the “status quo”.

Self- Coaching Challenge: Look at the important areas of your life like financial security, maintaining good health, developing and keeping friends and ask yourself which of your mental maps need renewal and up-dating?

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