Questioning Your Questions - Effective Listening Skills
In life, we have lots of questions. We are often blind to the types of questions we ask, and instead of examining our question's, we are addicted to quick and easy answers. This impairs our ability to learn. There is tremendous learning available when we question the types of questions we ask, instead of immediately demanding an answer.
How to Question Your Questions
When I find myself with a question, instead of automatically looking for an answer, I ask myself: “What is it about me that I have this particular question at this particular time?”
Maybe it is the MOOD I’m in, the CONCERNS I have, or the PRESUPPOSITIONS I live in?
- Maybe I have this question because I’m in a yucky mood? Perhaps if I shift my mood, things might look different to me?
- Maybe I have this question because of the types of concerns I have in the world and the private conversations I have in my head that are running my life behind the scenes?
- Perhaps a person with different concerns would have different questions?
- Perhaps the private conversations I have with myself are having me ask certain questions? Perhaps those conversations limit me or do not serve me?
Years ago, I attended an Education for Living workshop where the trainer talked about MOODS and the possibility that we can control and shift our own moods. The trainer called for a break, and all of the other participants left the room, but I hung back and peppered the trainer with questions: “How do I shift my mood? Will music work? Medication? Food?” I had been compiling a list of questions, and I wanted to have them answered right at that moment!
Now I look back and I ask myself: “What was it about me that I had that particular question at that particular time?” Well, I had some concerns: to get an A+ in the workshop and make sure I was doing it “right.” Isn’t it interesting that instead of allowing myself to learn at my own pace and enjoy the experience, I was micromanaging myself and making sure I was “doing it right”? How often in my life do I do that to myself? (Spoiler alert: I do it a lot!)
I can also ask myself: “What are the private conversations I had with myself that had me ask those questions?” Often the noise in my head sounds like: “I have to do it perfectly. I need to show them that I’m smart. My value is in my intellect, not in who I am as a human being.” Isn’t it interesting that these are the conversations I have in my head? Perhaps these conversations limit me or don’t serve me?
- Maybe this question comes from the presuppositions and assumptions about the world that I live in, which I am often blind to? Perhaps some of my presuppositions are actually incorrect, and so I believe that I have a valid question but, in fact, my question is not valid at all?
I borrow my friend Molly’s car, and I ask her how many gallons of gas the car takes. Molly says: “It’s complicated …” But I interrupt: “I don’t need the long story. Just tell me how much gas to put in the car.” Molly says: “You’re missing the point …” But I interrupt: “No, I’m in a rush. Just tell me how many gallons of gas!”
I don’t realize that I live in a presupposition that the car runs on gas, which has me ask how many gallons of gas the car takes. The problem is that it’s actually an electric car! I thought that my question was valid, but it wasn’t, and in failing to question my own question, I limited my ability to learn something new and move effectively in the world. And all the while, I was annoyed with Molly!
We are always living in presuppositions and assumptions in our lives, and we are often completely blind to them. So what presuppositions are YOU living in?
If we question our own questions, there is amazing learning available to help us move more effectively in the world and in our relationships. Effective listening skills include listening to yourself not just the people around you.