Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Asking Questions

I hate posting twice in a day (and this makes four), but this one's been on the back burner too long.

What if we asked more questions? What if even those of us who have something very important to say weren't afraid to ask questions in addition to preaching?

When we ask questions, we lead gently. We give people the opportunity to speak their mind, tell their story, and even challenge our assumptions. We communicate that we value them and that we are safe to be around. Contrast that with an approach that begins by firing off the correct information and it's logical justification. What is the motivation to listen for the person who already believes something different from what you're preaching? If the person has a lot of respect for you or agrees with what you're saying, they'll listen to the monologue. But if we ask questions, we can draw even our opponents into the conversation. Isn't it our opponents whom we most desire to engage?

If we just start with our assertions, often others will feel attacked. They feel like they have to be on guard against our verbal assault. Asking questions makes us vulnerable, not them.

But it's not the same thing as abandoning our assertions. We don't have to pretend we don't know anything, we just have to act like we don't know everything.

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