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Friday, October 9, 2020

Your Questions, Please

 "The best judge of a person is not the answers they give but the questions they ask." - Voltaire

What are some of your favorite questions to ask others? Asking good questions was perhaps the most valuable skill I learned in my years as an adult educator and coach. And nerdy as it is, I made it a habit to keep handy a list of questions that I discovered worked well in the classroom. That list became useful in my personal relationships and in my role as a supervisor. I've retained it to this day. 

What did this class usefully confirm to you? That one is still among my favorites. It's easy to modify by simply replacing the word "class" with "essay", or "article", or "film", etc. Like all good questions, it is one for which the questioner cannot have an answer. It's all about the person being asked.   

I stole another of my favorites from Emerson: What has become clearer to you since we last met? I've rarely been disappointed in the answers I've received for that. Open-ended questions like those two favorites keep me in a pure listening mode and help me avoid confirming my own biases. 

Tell me what you are passionate about. Sometimes declarative statements are more powerful - and elicit better responses - than a question. From its inception, asking questions on my blog has been the gateway I've used to attain one of my goals: Learning more about anyone who takes the time to read me. Today, I'll learn about you when you share your favorite questions with me. Of course, one of yours could well end up on that trusty list of mine; just saying.   

5 comments:

  1. Interesting post today, Pat. Not having the benefit of being an instructor in a classroom, I will gladly defer to your experience in that area. Usually, for me anyway, the situation or environment will dictate or motivate a question. For example, a question asked in a business meeting would not be the same as questions asked when out with friends. But, I’m sure that’s stating the obvious. But I do try to ask more that the usual ‘what’s new’? Especially since that is usually followed with ‘not much, what’s new with you?’. I have tried to ask questions that will result in better, longer, and more interesting conversations. Questions that will let the other person/people know that I was listening when we last spoke and was/am interested in what they were saying. Questions like ‘tell me more about that trip you were planning?’, did you finish that book you had started?’, ‘how is the house project going?’ I realize that these are more geared towards specific things, but they have worked for me. But, I have to admit, I’ve also been guilty of simply asking ‘what’s up’ (or is that ‘Ssup?) and have not always gotten the best responses. Especially from my lovely wife... lol.

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    1. RRGGRMG; Thanks for comment. Glad to hear you make an effort to transcend the "What's new?" bit; I agree responses to that stale question are often predictable. Also appreciate your idea about linking your questions to earlier conversations. That is indeed a good way to show others you were paying attention.

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  2. I have a corollary to "tell me what you are passionate about." What is meaningful and important to you?

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    1. Ines; Not only do I like your corollary question, I adore the word "corollary". Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I enjoy saying 'tell me more' to my children when they are excited about something. I find after that initial excitement and the 'ooo-ooo-ooo' as they try to tell me everything in one excited breath that the 'tell me more' phrase gets them to the next level of why they are excited/passionate/upset

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