Friday, March 10, 2017

                                                     What’s In a Question?

     A very close friend texted me yesterday to ask me how I was feeling after a scary health incident. She said, “Not to be nosy, but. . . “ I was surprised that she would think that asking how I was feeling would be nosy. She is a very close friend with whom I would share the most intimate of secrets. I love her, and I was touched that she asked.  A visiting friend asked last night, “So have you had any surprises about your move to Florida?” I was delighted that he would be interested enough to ask the question.

     I grew up with a father who taught me to be interested in other people. This is a gift he gave me, of which I am very proud. He taught me that you can learn from others by asking questions, and you certainly show others that you care by asking questions about their interests and their families. Apparently, others have learned that asking questions is invasive and considered prying. Neither is right or wrong; it’s just a difference in philosophy. For me, asking questions is my way of showing you I care. For me it says, “I know this is important to you, and because you are my friend, I am interested.” 

     In this narcissistic world of ours, I believe we need to ask each other more questions. Since the arrival of our good friends last night, we have been asked more questions in the last 12 hours than I’ve been asked in the last few months. I am flattered, and it makes me feel like they truly care. When someone asks my opinion, he or she is saying to me, “I value your perspective,” and sometimes it implies “you have a body of knowledge about this topic, and I would like to hear it.” 

     I have been in many conversations in which I did all the listening. I know everything about the other person, but that person knows nothing about me or my opinions on anything. Why would I want to continue a relationship in which I am the only listener? If that person never asks a question, I make the assumption, she is not interested. If she is not interested, she doesn’t value my friendship, nor do I hers. 

     Ask any salesperson how important questions are in building relationships? Ask any minister or priest how important using questions is in delivering an inspiring message. Think about our leaders. How many ask the important questions and listen to our answers?

     Do you ask questions? If so, what role do those play in your relationships? If you don’t, do you refrain from asking because you feel you are prying? Interesting questions, huh?