ASKING Qs THE RIGHT WAY
is a way of respecting someone
PREVIOUS: Types of Qs (Part 1b)
QUOTE: “Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” ― Shannon L. Alder
TYPES of Questions (Qs) – mainly from the “Q Tool Kit” (cont)
Qs that require thinking about how to structure the search for info, where to look & what resources will be needed, such as time, location, people…. It’s standing back & looking at the big picture before starting out. It also includes looking ahead to identify possible obstacles & consequences (“ Who ha written the best boo on this subject? // What clothes will I need for this trip? // MORE….)
Qs that are meant to challenge, push or throw conventional wisdom off-balance. They give free rein to doubt, disbelief & skepticism, often used in satire, parody or as an expose. These Qs are not always welcomed. They’re like the court jester whispering unpleasant truths in the king’s ear. The fool could often get away with Qs never allowed a legitimate member of the council, but he might also lose his head if the monarch took offense. (“Where’s the beef? // What’s you point?”)
Qs that look below the surface to the heart of the matter, every Q answered leading to another one. Continually searching for more insight, the best results come from a convergence of 3-4 relevant elements of a subject, to get something far more pointed and powerful (“What made you want to go to the Middle East”? // MORE….)
Best used when dealing with someone who is evasive, or when trying to understand a specific issue. They’re usually CLOSED, looking for clarity about what someone’s saying, or good for getting to the root cause of a problem – by drilling down fast. Probing the cause of a problem may require going down several layers. Asking “WHY” after each answer – 5x – can be very revealing. Most people don’t consciously know they have deeper & deeper ‘reasons’ until asked.
Qs specifically to gain for permission, or assistance:
“Would you lend me $20?” // “May I leave the room?”// Can I have that last piece?” // “Can I take my holiday from 12/12 to 1/12?”
Qs that don’t require an answer, & can be in various forms. It’s often
used by public speakers to get the audience to think. (“Who doesn’t hope to stay healthy in their old age?”) or a comedian engaging with the audience (“… or is it just me?”
Can be used to make a point, show off the questioner’s knowledge, or corner someone in an argument. The questioner is not looking for an answer, since they already knows it, but have an alternative motive.(“What time do you call this?” // “Why are you so stupid?” // “Are you kidding me?)
They can be in the form of the Disguised Imperative – a Q highlighting a demand, & usually requires an action rather than an answer. (“Do we wear our muddy shoes in this house?” / “Are you really going to wear that tie?”)
SORTING / SIFTING
Qs that allow us to manage the large & sometimes confusing amount of info available, culling & keeping only what’s pertinent & useful. Relevancy is the main criterion that determines what’s saved & what’s ignored (“How much of what you told me actually happened / really important?”)
Qs that focus on ways to Make Meaning. They are raised during the actual hunting, gathering, inferring & synthesizing of info when researching a subject. Along with Planning Qs, the researcher must use a variety of tools & strategy while working in unfamiliar territory (“What do I do next? What thinking tool is most apt to help me with this problem?”)
Qs that are built with such precision that they provide sorting & sifting during the gathering or discovery process. They help to gather only the very specific evidence required, focused only on those facts which throw light on the main issue at hand (“ Based on crime rates, property tax rates, employment possibilities & housing conditions, which of the 3 cities X.Y.Z. would you choose to live in?”)
Qs that serve like boundary stones, helping to tell us when we have pushed insight to its outer limits. When exploring Essential Qs (most of which are ultimately unanswerable) we may have to settle for just “shining a light” on them. The Truth may never be found, but may extend the level of understanding & reduce the intensity of the darkness (“What is God? // How soon can I let go of my pain / will I get well…. ?”)
Combine OPEN Q with SILENCE
Knowing when to be quiet, when to let the other person pause & then continue.
It give the potential responder a chance to reflect, & then offer any additional thoughts that may surface. It’s particularly useful when wanting to encourage deep meaningful communication from someone.
However, to get the most out of a conversation it’s important to reassure the person that your silence is not a pressure to ‘perform’ or to have the ‘right’ answer.
NEXT: TYPES of ANSWER