Hands-on Help: Life Skills
group magazine: November-December, 2005
Asking Good Questions
Ever been in a conversation where people’s mouths moved and words were spoken, but afterward you couldn’t remember if anything meaningful had occurred? This type of nice, nonpersonal, nonfeeling conversation is appropriate for certain occasions—instead of being an exception, however, it’s becoming what seems to be the cultural norm.
Questions can be risky. By asking personal or thought-provoking questions, we may come across as being nosy, too intense, or just plain pesky. Questions are worth the risk, though, because down deep we all want to tell our stories; we all want to be known and pursued. We often don’t tell what’s really going on inside us because no one really asks. Here are three categories of questions to mull over.
Thoughtful/Empathetic—These kinds of questions show that we remember the details of other people’s lives. We’ve thought about what someone else might be going through and are able to put words to these feelings.
Insightful/Pursuing—By being aware of life’s struggles, by learning to love questions and mystery, our insight into humanity grows. These kinds of questions don’t barge in—they lean in. They knock and sometimes gently keep knocking because people don’t believe you mean it unless you continue to pursue.
Pondering/Open Ended—Questions of this kind inspire wisdom by asking others to consider things from new vantage points and then leave answers on the table—to be changed as more information is received.
Learning to ask good questions opens relational doors, deepens the possibility for fellowship, and sets the stage for personal growth. Start asking!