The diabolical questions method allows an individual, through collective work, to open up his or her perspectives on a subject or to explore an issue. This technique also allows participants to work on the art of questioning by building a conversation in an exclusively interrogative form.
Time needed: 15 to 20 minutes per participant
- A quiet and comfortable environment
- Writing materials
- You divide the participants into groups of 4-5 people.
- Each person is first asked to write a question that concerns them on an A4 sheet. This question should be open-ended, not lead to a predetermined answer, and trully invite reflection.
- Each member of the group is then interviewed by the others one after the other.
- The first volunteer “interviewee” reminds the group of his or her initial question by placing the A4 sheet of paper in the centre of the circle.
E.g.: “I’ve had to write a blog post for months and I don’t know where to start”.
- In a random order, each person then asks one or more questions.
E.g.: “What do you need to get started?
Depending on the number of participants and sub-groups, you or a volunteer participant will take notes.
- For each question asked, the interviewee should take the time to answer in an interrogative way. That is the complex part of the exercise: translating into a question what comes naturally as an affirmative answer.
In the example, the interviewee may think of the following answer: “I feel isolated”, but as he/she should only express himself/herself with a question, he/she formulates out loud: “Who could support me in my project?” and so on.
- When the 15 to 20 minutes are up, another member of the group benefits from the exercise by taking the place of the “interviewee”.
- Suggest participants not to fall into the trap of closed questions: answering by “yes” or “no” limits exploration and reflection possibilities.
- Make it clear that the questions should not “hide” solutions: by jumping to conclusions, you lose some of the benefit of this emergence exercise.
- At each round, it is essential to take note of the whole series of questions, including the interviewee’s interrogative answers. It is by rereading this list that the interviewees will later be able to take a fresh look at their initial problem.
- Make sure that the person has time to answer before being asked another question: it is not always easy to transcribe a statement into a question. This method is a good opportunity to learn to take things slowly.