Oak Communications
March 2011
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I recently wrote an article for ABiz Magazine entitled, Picture Perfect. It was about two architectural delineators, each using different methods to make their drawings. I loved writing this article because I got to explore a topic new to me and interview several interesting and creative people.  


When interviewing people, I learn about people's lives, their work, what they think about and how they make choices. When I keep a curious mind - one that is open and not judgmental - people feel heard and trusted.


In the book, Change your questions, change your life, Marilee Adams discusses how to use "learner questions" in our lives and in our work in order to develop more satisfying relationships and achieve better results. So often, instead we use "judger" questions of ourselves and others. Judger questions lead to blame and drain our energy and enthusiasm.


Judger questions include:

What's wrong with me?

Whose fault is it?

Why bother?

How can I prove I'm right?

Why are they so stupid and frustrating?


Learner questions include:

What are the facts?

What am I responsible for?

What do I want?

What can I learn?

What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?

What are my choices?


Sylvie (name changed), one of my coaching clients, expressed interest in paying attention to the questions she was asking herself and others. We discussed doing this with curiosity. I didn't want her to get discouraged when she caught herself using a judger question. She started to notice the voice inside her head. She was also beginning to observe what was actually happening around her separate from her thoughts and feelings about it.


She noticed sometimes she could catch herself thinking, "Why is that person so stupid?" Or "Why doesn't that person like me?" Once noticed, she could pause, take a breath and ask herself: "What assumptions am I making?" Or "What are the facts?"  


We practiced asking new questions together, which gave her greater capacity to do this on her own.  She found that when she started to switch from judger to learner questions she felt lighter physically. She discovered that she was listening more openly to others. She is also learning that this process takes time.


What are you becoming curious about?

Be well,

Sue Schleifer

Recommendations for the Curious   

I highly recommend the book mentioned in the article above, Change your questions, change your life by Marilee Adams.

Inspired thinking
Charles Limb, a musician and scientist is asking lots of questions in order to study the way musical creativity works in the brain. Click to hear his TED.com talk Your Brain on Improv.

Here is a link to an animated talk on TED.com by Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms that is sure to stimulate your thinking.

What I am curious about this week is Mardi Gras in southwest Louisiana. I plan to attend a Courir de Mardi Gras as well as a parade in town, a musical jam session in the country, and more beginning this weekend. Oh, and I will be sampling my first homemade King Cake.

Consulting Services  

Headshot Sue


I help organizations to articulate their vision and goals so that their work is focused and directed. Together we strive for clear communication, whether written or spoken, which contributes to employee and customer satisfaction.



As leaders grow personally and expand their knowledge and skills, so does their organization and the people that make it all happen. I help people work together effectively and learn from one another in order to build strong organizations.



Excitement and challenge come from thinking creatively and utilizing the talents of each person in an organization. By building a learning and listening environment, creative ideas are tapped and effective plans, systems, and solutions can be implemented.


Areas of Consultation

  • Organization effectiveness and structure
  • Leadership development
  • Executive coaching
  • Effective communication, both internally and externally
  • Developing strategies for organizational growth
  • Strategic planning
  • Fundraising and board development for nonprofits

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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