What Sort of Questions Do You Ask?

Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

I have become an avid observer of people’s interactions...a people-relating-watch-aholic. I’ve said many times (with my finger pointing right back at me) that we are a nation of poor listeners. Now I posit that we are also a nation of lazy questioners, which is a corollary to the first criticism on our collective listening skill. We tend to ask questions that we know the answer to—yes or no questions, leading questions. They are simpler and don’t require a long effort in listening to the answer. 

Tough questions require the asker to take on the role of active listener, embodying patience, sincere interest, humility and respect for the work it takes to answer well—because it does take work to answer a good question well. It takes critical thinking to filter an answer through a person’s knowledge and experiences to craft a response that is original and unique. 

If we believe we already know the answer to the question we are asking, and we merely want others to know it or repeat it, then the question will yield little except our own opinion validated. If we are intentional about combining what we know about an individual with the issue at hand so that the question requires a thoughtful answer, then we are both better for it. 

So I ask you: what question will you ask today?

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