Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Art Of Asking

I am a naturally curious person, so asking questions tends to come easy for me. There isn't much I wont ask somebody. Inquiring minds want to know! :) But even the best can get stuck in the rut of "fine" answers. If you are a parent you've been responded to way too many times with "fine", "good" answers to your questions. How many times have you asked your kids or your husband how their day was, only to hear "fine." End of story. (or end of answer, in this case!) So over the years I've learned to hone my question asking.

I've always been an advocate for Families eating dinner together. No matter how busy our lives get, we need to be intentional about spending time together as a Family, and what better time than when having dinner. It's also the best time to talk. You have a Captive Audience sitting around the Dinner table. Weather that table is at home or in a Restaurant. So use that time to talk. And you can start with knowing how to ask questions. . .

I was reminded of what I'm calling The Art of Asking Questions in a Women's Bible Study I've been in called, Becoming A Woman Of Influence By: Carol Kent. This is good for us no matter what our walk of life happens to be. A Wife, a Mother, a Friend, a Sister, a Daughter, a Co-worker, or meeting someone for the very first time. Relationships can start & become strengthened simply by knowing how to ask the right Questions.

For a man who had all the answers, Jesus sure asked a lot of questions! He was Wise, not Condescending. He used questions. And we can too. When we ask the right questions, it causes people to reflect & examine. It Encourages higher level thinking skills. To uncover the real story, you have to ask the right questions.

Over the years, with my kids especially, but also with others, whether it's a conversation with a friend or family member, or even a Job Interview, I've learned to stop asking questions that can be answered with one word responses, such as "fine", "good", "yes", "no", "nothing". Such as the aforementioned "How was your day?" :) I got more specific in my questions. For example, instead of asking "How was school today?" (fine, good, etc) I got more creative in my question asking, to find out more information about my kids & their day! I started asking questions like "What was your Favorite Class Today?" or "Who'd you sit by at Lunch today?" "What did you guys talk about?" "How did that make you feel?" Questions that have to be answered with more than one word. Answers that would reveal something! That's what I call The Art Of Asking Questions! And anyone can do it! Think about some of the Best Questions you've ever heard asked. For me that would include: Dr. Phil's "How's that working out for you?" :) or Oprah's "What do you KNOW that's For Sure?"

There's a story in the Bible (found in Matthew chapter 14) where the Disciples were in a boat & Jesus came walking on the water out to meet them. They were terrified at first, thinking they were seeing a ghost. Peter (one of the Disciples) told Jesus, if it's really You, tell me to come out on the water to You, which Jesus did. Walking on the water, Peter looked at the waves around him & started to sink. Jesus used a question to get Peter to think. He said "you of little Faith, Why did you Doubt?" It makes me think of when my oldest son was little, he loved the water, even before he could swim. He was Fearless in Floaties! :) Even jumping off diving boards! I remember one time he jumped in with an inflatable ring around his middle & slid right through! We were there on the side of the pool watching it unfold. He doggy paddled to the edge & pulled himself up. Crying & gasping for air, he asked the only question on his mind: "Dad, Why didn't you save me?" to which his dad answered, "Because you were Swimming! I was right here, you were doing it! You swam Buddy! I didn't need to save you!" I watched my sons little face go from sheer terror, to being hurt & upset his Dad hadn't jumped in, to amazement in the realization he'd just swam! Which brings me to me next point, what you find out from asking questions & what they reveal with their answers, may be very different from what you were expecting. So be prepared for that possibility.

Another thing to remember when learning The Art Of Asking Questions is that if you, like me, are a Talker, it's also an art form to learn to wait & let them answer! Good questions help us & them to slow down so we don't speak too quickly. If someone is asking for advice, when your tempted to jump in with how to resolve their problem, learn how to pause & ask questions. The more you learn about the real issue, the better prepared you'll be to give an answer yourself. Questions get through better than any lecture will. Trust me, it will benefit you greatly in every Relationship you have to learn The Art Of Asking!

 Good Questions -vs- Great Questions
"Good questions create interest; great ones inspire a response.
Good questions open conversations; great ones open souls.
Good questions raise issues; great ones evoke dreams and visions.
Good questions elicit ideas; great questions uncover needs."

2 comments: said...

Great advice.

I would add that when your kids tell you something that freaks you out, don't let your freak out show - at least not right at that moment. If they think that telling you things will cause you to "overreact", they won't tell you. That doesn't mean you can address an issue, but think on it first before you respond. Once my son told me something and it was all I could do not to freak out. After we finished our conversation, I freaked out to my husband and he assured me that I was overreacting.

Robin said...

What a beautiful reminder to use questions well. Asking questions of another person is one way to show value, that you care about them and what they think. As long as it isn't done in an iquisition kind of way (I know a few people who don't know the difference).

Thanks for sharing. Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.