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Question Avoidance, Evasion, Aversion and Phobia: why we are unable to escape from traps


Question Avoidance, Evasion, Aversion and Phobia
"Risk aversion" and "Loss aversion": implications for questions
Questioning in relation to learning
Question reluctance, Question aversion and Question phobia: Unaskable questions
Question avoidance vs Question evasion
Distinguishing "avoidance" and "evasion" for 7 WH-questions
Transformation of WH-questions as part of the avoidance / evasion process -- towards a science of "spin"?
Management of question avoidance and evasion

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Annex to


The concern here is to clarify the nature of the various forms of question avoidance and their consequences. The main focus is the distinction between such forms in the case of the 7 WH-questions (or interrogatives): when, where, which, how, what, who and why. Of partiuclar interest is the possibility of using the avoidance of these questions as a basis for understanding both the persistence of the range of problems profiled in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential -- and the hindrances to the strategies in response to them. This approach leads to a presentation of these forms as a set of interrelated conditions that point to a science of "spin" but also to a healthy framework within which the appropriateness of particular forms of question can be considered.

Questions are valued in sectors dependent on adaptation in response to changing conditions. Leaders are expected to challenge the status quo: moving others out of their "comfort zones"; creating a compelling vision; establishing stretch goals; asking challenging questions [more].

Identifying and posing challenging questions for others, who are expected to find the answers, is therefore recognized as a key characteristic of leadership -- if only for the questionable purpose of keeping followers off-balance. But leaders may ask such questions of themselves. For example, John S McCallum (As the Economy Turns: 10 Questions for Executives, Ivey Business Journal, May/June 2001) identifies ten questions that business leaders should ask themselves in order to respond to issues vital to their success in periods of uncertainty. They are: Is the structure right? Is the business model sustainable? Do you want to be in the business you are in? Is executive success in place? Do you know your customer? Are the costs right? Is the product right? Do you know your competition? Is the balance sheet right? Where are you on technology? Leadership courses for executives typically focus on such challenging questions rather than on formulaic answers.

In the light of this recognition, in the case of business leadership, the exploration here endeavours to identify the challenges for social change leadership that may be especially associated with the classical WH-questions.

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