How can we use questioning to better connect with others?

As a pastor of a bible church in a drug-riddled Philadelphia neighborhood known as the Badlands, Joel Van Dyke was determined to reach the youth of that community—but for years had no luck figuring out how to do so. Then, after stumbling upon the e. e. cummings line about “beautiful questions,” Van Dyke decided to use questioning as an outreach tool. Instead of trying to tell local youths that he knew what they needed, “I decided to ask, “What would you do to reach yourself?” His willingness to immerse himself in the community and ask that question led to a surprising conversation. Community youths (including gang leaders) told him they desperately wanted a place to play handball, but had been locked out of the local facilities. “Throw a big handball tournament,” they told Van Dyke, “and we’ll bring all our friends.” Van Dyke’s church went on to sponsor four tournaments a year, which also provided a venue to share the ministry’s message. 

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books about the power of questioning:  target="_blank">BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry, THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, and A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. Warren’s writing appears regularly in Psychology Today, Fast CompanyHarvard Business Review, and The New York Times. He lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts.

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