Why do we ask questions?
.....Do we ask them to hear the response
...........actually HEAR what the other person is saying
Do we ask them for more selfish reasons?
.....Do we ask them to RESPOND?
..........to just get our own words in
.....Do we ask them out of general habit?
.........without really caring what the answer is
While on vacation in Saint Martin a few weeks ago this idea of questions surfaced for me. During our last day in paradise Tom and I relaxed, chatted, read and soaked up the sun. We were living up the bliss for the last precious moments that we had.... and then....
A super nice family came and sat next to us. These people had JUST arrived and were excited to being their time in Saint Martin. The husband was especially friendly and chatty, he didn't quite get the memo that we were quietly enjoying our last day. He started asking questions..... and wasn't even listening to our responses before chiming into the conversation with his opinion or story.
"How long have you been here?
......This is our last day, we got here on
..........Oh man, your last day. We are here for 10 days and plan to do....... blah blah blah."
"What do you do for a living?"
.......I am a pilot and fly for
.........Cool, we just arrived and let me tell you about my flight and the entire journey to get here.... blah blah blah."
"Where are you guys from?"
......We live in Washington State just north of
...........Oh wow, we are from the Midwest. We are seriously excited for this change of weather and..... blah blah blah"
You get the idea. This guys was NOT asking questions to make conversation or actually HEAR what we were saying. He was asking questions ONLY so that he could respond. It was beyond frustrating and eventually Tom and I just got up and moved.
Asking questions out of habit or to get a rhetorical response or just to reply is something that happens ALL the time.....I know that I am guilty. AND I am always working to ask better questions, as a coach it is my job!
How can we become better Question Askers?
- Slow down.
- Listen without conjuring up a response in your mind.
- Count to 5 before responding.
- Ask a follow up/clarifying questions before responding.
- Repeat the answer that was given. "I heard you say (XYZ). Did I hear you right?"
- Be aware when you start to zone out, saying things like, "Sorry, what did you just say?"
- Be specific: "What was the coolest thing that happened at school? Vs. How was school today?
We are all human... so when we slip, when we zone out, when we respond too quickly just apologize and move on. We are a work in progress....