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Getting to a Person’s Why

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To learn a person’s “why” (also known as their “self-interest”), you want to get beyond the opinions they have to the experiences that have shaped those opinions. Here are some good questions to go deeper. As much as possible, ask follow-up questions that get to telling stories.

  • Who is a person you are bringing into this work? Who are you doing this work for? Who do you think of – a child, a friend, a parent, a mentor, a co-conspirator?
  • What was the very first time you decided to get involved in political work? What happened?
  • What was an important value that your parents or guardians instilled in you? How did they do that?
  • What is a moment that you feel most proud of in your organizing work? What happened?
  • What do you fear might happen if we’re not successful in our work? Paint a picture of what that looks like.
  • What do you dream might happen if we are successful in our work? Paint a picture of what that looks like.
  • Who is your hero (not in your family) and why?
  • When was the last time you got REALLY ANGRY at the world, and why? What happened?

Developed by Sarah Turbow, Good Guys at the Barricades
https://medium.com/good-guys-at-the-barricades
Presented at the 2020 Sister District Summit

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