(Issue #510) The Third Grader In The Room

Posing questions sets up a vulnerability of sorts.
Publicly admitting, “I don’t understand. I need you to help me.”


Simple question.


Seeking additional information to explain a situation.


We have heard young children ask that question as they attempt to braille their way through a confusing world.


And it is a question that may not be posed enough by adults.

Questions—like Why?—can help us understand nuances, gather important information, challenge our preconceptions and misconceptions, or show an interest in a topic or person.  And, questions can help us maintain ownership of a conversation.

As a facilitator of hundreds of workshops, I have used authentic questions to engage the audience and to help them clarify positions. Lectures tend to present what the speaker knows (or thinks she knows or wants you to believe). Questions encourage conversation, seek knowledge and highlight our shortcomings. And that last point—drawing out shortcomings—may keep some people from asking questions. They fear looking weak. So, they talk rather than ask.

If you need to think you are the smartest person in the room, you may decide not to ask a genuine question that acknowledges you lack knowledge or skill in a subject. Posing questions sets up a vulnerability of sorts.  Publicly admitting, “I don’t understand. I need you to help me.”

When I have stated, “Explain it to me like I’m a 3rd grader.” I am telling the other person, I am weak in whatever the area is in front of us.  I am asking for help to become stronger.  I am open to learning.

I believe it was the Dalai Lama who said something to the effect, “When I talk, I hear what I know. When I listen, I might learn something.”

When we stop pontificating and start asking questions we may learn something.

Video Recommendation for the Week

In this clip from Philadelphia, Denzel Washington reminds us of the importance of getting to the point of a matter; of getting help to understand.

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

My new book has been released.
eBook ($2.99) Paperback ($9.99). Click here.

Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Life lessons and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to (Issue #510) The Third Grader In The Room

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Just bought your book – good luck with it! 😀


  2. Pingback: (Issue #553) A Blogger’s Retrospective for 2020 | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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