Each time I saw this friend, she would ask a question about something I had mentioned the last time we talked. The question might be about something I was planning to do or something that was on my heart. This told me she had really been listening to me. Her question made me feel like I was loved and paid attention to! She inspired me to try to ask questions more with others I knew.
Asking questions is a skill for loving well! It accomplishes at least four things:
- Shows we’re interested in others! Being curious and learning about others turns our attention to other people and away from our self-centered tendencies. It expresses care and allows us to build relationships. Who are they? What is their story? What can they do? What do they like? What do they dream?
- Grows our understanding of others. Questions give us an opportunity to see their perspective. Even when we disagree or see things differently, growing in understanding allows us to show respect and love. What do they think? What did something mean to them? What motivates them?
- Enables us to show empathy. As we ask questions and listen, we can understand the other person’s emotions and experience. This allows us to show love and care on a deeper level. What are their sorrows? Joys? What was this experience like for them?
- Gives the gift of listening. Asking a question indicates that we are willing to listen. This is such a gift, since very often people don’t take the time and effort to listen.
We can all intentionally ask questions and show interest in others! The first step to grow this skill is to become aware of ourselves. We can ask ourselves: How much do I talk? Do I ask questions? How well do I listen? Then we can bring this awareness and thoughtfulness into our conversations. Here’s a few things you can try:
When you see someone, try starting the conversation by asking a question instead of sharing about yourself. This shows your interest in the other person and gives them a chance to share.
When the other person is talking and then pauses, ask them a question about what they just said. This shows you were really listening.
And, like my friend did, ask a follow-up question the next time you catch up with someone! Remember what they said or what was happening in their life the last time you saw them. At times, I’ve even jotted myself a note to ask someone about something later. Though I would like to just remember it naturally, writing it down is a practice that helps me be intentional!
With practice, asking questions will become a natural rhythm of your conversations. In next week’s post, we’ll explore the skill of listening.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:4
How often do you ask questions? Which of the three ideas above will you try?
Kathryn Featherstone is a certified Christian Life Coach by the Board of Christian Life Coaches. She is trained by Gallup for coaching with CliftonStrengths assessment and resources. She’d like to encourage you in your journey; simply write her a note on her Contact page!