Monday, January 4, 2010

The art of asking questions

image from

Parenting never eases up. Just when you think you might have a handle on the new "phase" or developmental level, someone blinks. God chuckles as we roll our eyes, and we continue to learn.
Good questioning skills may be the world's most unsung talent.

This concept of questioning bubbled to the surface as I attended a parenting workshop a couple months ago with Mark Gregston. While he deals quite a bit with troubled teens, he has lots of great words for those of us that continue to build solid relationships with our kids, even before the teenage years (I've got a few months yet before officially become a parent of a teenager, so I do not speak from experience . . . yet). He kept emphasizing the power of questions.

In browsing for other's thoughts on the topic I found an article discussing the importance of questions in sales. The author points out that questions are required to gain information, the one who asks the questions controls the conversation, and the depth and quality of your questions reflects the depth and quality of your relationship with that person.

How often do I ramble on and not really control the conversation?

How often do my questions flit about the surface rather than really diving in to where I want to swim?

While out for my morning walk recently, I continued to listen to Tedd Tripp's session on The Heart of Communication. He, too, (surprise, surprise) brought up questions. Conversation must be two ways. Otherwise we have a "good talk, and they have a good listen." We need to learn the craft of drawing out the deep waters (Proverbs 20:5). He has so much wisdom in this area, and I have listened to this twice in a row, and poured over the many Scripture passages referenced. God continues to chisel away at my speech -- smoothing, focusing, infusing with His love.

Some of my goals I am thinking of in this area . . .
  • Ask at least one meaningful question of each member of my home each day (not just, "did you take the garbage out?")
  • Make a list of questions that I want to ask my kids over the course of the maturing years. Not that I need to pull it out like a cheat sheet, but to get me thinking more along these lines.
  • Continue to study this area of questions to understand it better and to gain greater skills in it.
  • Ask more questions, listen more, and babble less.

I want to know my kids, and my spouse, and I want them to know I care about knowing them. Questions show a sincere interest in the other person. Questions should be selfless. Questions should keep us engaged. We've been asking questions since the 2 year-old "why?" and yet, many of us still don't know how to craft a really good question. I sure have a ways to go.

As soon as I started this post, I realized it would run into far more than one post, so I plan at least two more posts to come -- asking questions in the classroom; asking questions in relationships. Never thought this topic of asking questions could run so deep, and I still feel like I'm skating over the surface.


jenniferO said...

WOW! This is gold. I will definitely start asking more questions and do less talking. The "did you take the garbage out today" is all too familiar! I can't wait to read your other two. Thanks!

angie said...

very thought-provoking...