Do you ask questions of the people around you? I don’t. And I need to.
My Mom has developed this habit of asking “Why” whenever I make a statement that leaves any room for it. I don’t remember when exactly she started this, but I think it’s been at least a year. The first time she asked “Why,” it completely stopped me in my conversation. I remember stammering out some faint, not-quite-honest answer, mostly because I was so startled by the question that I said the first thing that came to mind (which is hardly ever the most honest answer).
It annoyed me. She would ask “Why?” at what I considered statements that had no answer to “why.” For the longest time I dreaded the “Why?” questions, because I felt like she was expecting a particular answer. (I’m a terrible people-pleaser, and I often want to say what I think others want to hear – which is not the right thing to do.) I kept wondering what she was looking for, what she was searching out, and if I my answers would please her.
Then it dawned on me that my Mom didn’t have an agenda. She didn’t necessarily disagree (or agree) with what I was saying. She was asking “Why?” because she wanted to know my mind and my heart. She was giving me the privilege to share my innermost thoughts and feelings, because she loves me and cares for me deeply. By asking “Why?” she was opening the door and inviting me to share my opinions, not with the intention of cutting me down but of knowing me better.
How cool is that?
My Mom’s a very wise woman, so I tested out this “Why?” question. I’ve only had the chance to use it a couple of times, but wow. It’s amazing and beautiful how people will suddenly open up. No one walks around without an opinion, a dream, a hope, a desire, a want, and the words in our minds are just waiting to be heard. So when someone makes a statement, and you ask them “Why,” you are giving them permission to share those locked-away words. You are showing that you care, and you are interested in hearing what they have to say.
As if this hasn’t been sufficient, God has opened my ears to hear a group of amazing leaders, writers, and speakers, and in one day I heard two people I follow talk about the “discipline of being inquisitive” (Michele Cushatt), and to “stay curious” (Michael Hyatt).
I look forward to being more inquisitive, and asking lots of questions. I’ve done a very poor job of it in my life up to this point, so this is definitely a habit I will have to teach myself. Yet I am eager to do more listening and less talking.
What are your favorite questions to ask people, or to be asked?