Think of questions in general. If you are asking the right questions in your conversations, it communicates that you are interested in the other person and/or the group. Well, don’t forget that “listening to the answer” counts for a great deal as well! (See my blogpost….ARE YOU A GOOD LISTENER)
And asking YOURSELF the right questions is also essential. It just means you are reflecting, engaging in self examination….listening to YOURSELF also counts here….
What’s the point? According to James Ryan, a Dean at Harvard there are actually FIVE important questions to ask. He outlines them in a new book, WAIT! WHAT? So here’s a cliff note version with my thoughts added.
Question 1 — Wait! What? (Obviously the book title). What makes it a good question? It slows the conversation down. It also implies you are paying attention and want clarification. And if you’re truly listening, you will get lots of additional information. It also may suggest the other person wasn’t being as clear as she/he could have been and gives opportunity to provide more detail.
And imagine asking it of yourself. It slows you down and hopefully enhances self examination….”Wait must a minute….WHAT was I thinking?” And now you can catch a breath and reflect on whether you are headed in the right direction.
Question 2 — I wonder….
Question 3 — Couldn’t we at least? Both of these questions lead to exploring common ground in any conversation. The “ask” expands the conversation, perhaps leading to deeper thinking, perhaps to broader thinking. New information will enter the interaction. And if you ask yourself the same questions, your personal reflection and self examination will broaden.
Question 4 — How can I help? Let’s imagine this one is fairly obvious? Regardless, it enhances connection. It shows caring, compassion and empathy. And if you hang in there and listen to the answer, the relationship will deepen. How can I help myself? This might simply be asked too infrequently.
Question 5 — What truly matters? Asked of another or of yourself, this gets to the heart of what’s happening — in the relationship OR inside your head
All of the questions are leading to connection in that they show you are curious, interested, and genuinely want to understand the other person….AND Ryan suggests the right question leads to the best answer. Snag the book just so you can remind yourself of these 5 simple questions from time to time. Use them to journal a bit…to meditate…to reflect….Any time you spend “with yourself” will enhance self understanding and reduce stress…..and you deserve to be less stressed! Take good care of yourself and your relationships