Suggested Questions for Facilitating Deliberation
The following questions are useful for stimulating deliberation on contentious community issues.
Questions that connect the issue to real life concerns:
- Could you illustrate how this is touching the lives of most of us in the community?
- What makes the issue real for us?
- What evidence do you see that this is something that is important to all of us?
- Can you illustrate how this issue touches people up and down the economic ladder?
Questions that ask individuals to weigh the costs and consequences of each choice until they have begun to hear others’ perspectives and to acknowledge conflicting values:
- What might be the results of your choice on others?
- How might your choice be different if you were poor? Wealthy? A worker?
- Could you identify those things that are important to us that seem to be clashing?
Questions that ask people to weigh the costs they are willing to accept in order to achieve the results they want:
- Can you live with the consequences?
- What costs are at stake and can we live with them?
- Would you give up _____ in order to achieve _____?
- What are the trade-offs you are or are not willing to make?
Questions that probe each person’s statement until others can understand what he or she believes should be done and why he or she thinks it should be done:
- What does that mean to you?
- Why does this choice appeal to you?
- What is important about taking this direction?
- Can you give an example of how that might work out? What might happen?
- Why do you feel we should move in this direction?
Questions that encourage the speaker to make a connection between the actions he or she would advocate and what is important to him or her:
- Could you live with the actions?
- Would you be willing to have that action apply to everyone?
- What is most valuable to you or to those who support that action?
- If we did what you suggested, could you illustrate how that might play out in your life?
Ask questions that invite others to respond to what has just been said:
- What did you hear?
- Could someone tell a story that illustrates what was just said?
- Did that pull anyone’s chain?
- What do you feel drives the action that was just illustrated?
Questions that give the individual an opportunity to identify what they have heard that reveals a shared understanding of the problem, a new option they have created, or costs the group cannot accept:
- What actions did you hear that seemed most important to all of us?
- What actions would best accomplish this?
- Suppose we can’t have everything, is there some action we could all live with?
- Have we come to some understanding or developed a political will to support certain actions?
- What are those actions?