Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ask Better Questions

Questions elicit answers in their likeness. Answers mirror the questions they…meet. So while a simple question can be precisely what's needed to drive to the heart of the matter, it's hard to meet a simplistic question with anything but a simplistic answer. It's hard to transcend a combative question. But it's hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking better questions.
                                        - Krista Tippett

Schools on all levels often teach the Who-What-When-Where-Why-How method of questioning. Using those questions once was the sign of a good investigator as well as a good reporter. It was about getting to the crux of the matter, exploring the details, and cross-checking the facts. Those questions, couched in a variety of other wordings, informed our opinions as they taught us about the many facets and faces of the world around us.

Some people worded their questions to elicit specific responses ~ either in word or in denial. Many asked questions from a mindset that expects particular responses. We learned to listen with ears attuned to words we wanted to hear. It's no longer about finding the facts or telling the most complete version of the story. It's about proving ourselves right. Getting the story out there first took precedence ~ and if some facts were inaccurate, well, we could update it later. Nevermind that most people would never see or hear the update.

To get back to that place of curiosity and wonder, we have to relearn how to do less guiding with our questions. Ask more open-ended, generous and invitational queries. Ask better questions ~ not only in their complexity, but also in their authenticity and genuineness. Set an intention to invite and welcome others, whether they are family, friends, neighbors or total strangers. As we open ourselves to asking better questions, we learn more about those around us. We develop a more sincere way to express ourselves in the world as well.

What questions would you want someone to ask you? How do you respond to quick or simplistic questions? What questions form themselves in your mind when you meet a new person? What keeps you from asking them? How do you pursue conversations with others? Why is it important to you to ask ~ and be asked ~ open and authentic questions?

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