Questions are one of the most useful conversational tools. When things fall flat or get awkward, all it takes is a well placed question to pick things back up. Questions are the best way to incite deep conversations and get people to share their innermost thoughts. You can of course share statements on your own deep thoughts. But that will never guarantee that someone will want to reciprocate and share their own deep thoughts. It could be as simple as just asking what you want to know rather than sharing what you want to be shared. Both strategies can work. But one will work much more frequently than the other.
Questions are powerful for social dynamics in general. Questions can be used to change the topic or focus of a conversation. Questions can be used to hold power in conversations with groups. If you are the person asking questions, then you are the one directing the conversation. There’s a million and one ways that questions are useful. It’s up to you to use questions to their maximum potential in your life. And one of the best ways to get better at using questions is to simply just ask them more often. You should audit how many questions you ask and whether you’re really asking enough in your everyday life. So do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?
Here’s my thoughts on whether I ask enough questions or if I settle for what I know.
Questions are one of my most favorite conversational tools of all time. When I was younger I was obsessed with social dynamics. I spent a lot of time learning about emotional intelligence and how to interact with people. I was always the super quiet kid that stayed to himself in the corner. I didn’t have a problem being to myself. I just knew I was leaving a lot of opportunities on the table. This applied to business and my goals. But it also applied to just experiencing life in general. If nobody remembered who I was, then nobody would think to invite me to events or anything special. I didn’t want that for myself. So I spent a lot of time learning about social cues, body language, and psychology.
One of the things that I learned about was verbal conversation. I always sucked at conversation. I was always in my head thinking about a million and one things. Instead of saying every little thing that popped into my head, I would overthink what I should and shouldn’t say. I was very careful about what I would share with people. I didn’t want to give off the wrong image to the right people. So when it came time to have a normal conversation I was quiet thinking about all the right things to say. And I would listen to what others were saying. But I was never ready with a good response or an addition to the conversation. I sucked at talking to people.
That’s when I started learning about questions. Questions were so cool because they didn’t really require a lot of thought. I didn’t have to spend five minutes thinking of approriate questions to ask. Although, it did help to be careful about not asking bad or irrelevant questions. But for the most part, I didn’t have to think about how I wanted to respond to something. I just had to think about what else I wanted to learn about the current topic. And that was so much easier for me. That plus most people love talking about themselves. So instead of me trying to find a way to slip in my funny story about how I got lost in traffic last week, I could just ask good follow up questions to whatever the person last told me.
Of course this doesn’t work if you only ask questions. But in general it creates a lot of space to add valuable snippets of info. I didn’t feel like I had to fill in conversations with a bunch of fluff all the time. I just had to be good at asking questions. And that was something I was always really good at. Ever since I was a kid, I was a naturally curious type. Once something caught my attention, I would spend all day learning about that thing. I would often get so engulfed in different subjects that I would ignore everything else. I would forget to eat or shower because I wanted to research and learn everything I could about my new favorite subject. And all that curiousity led to some amazing questions.
So I was a natural question asker my whole life. Once I realized how powerful questions were in social situations, it only got better. I would ask questions all the time. And my questions were always ten times more interesting than the questions everyone else would ask. And I felt so much more in control of conversations. If I wanted to change the subject then I could just ask a question that had to do with a completely different subject. It was that easy. I’ve become so infatuated with questions that it’s probably unhealthy. I ask questions all the time now. I’ve gotten so into questions that I spent a whole year answering one new question a day. That’s why I’m here writing this answer right now. I wasn’t forced to. I chose to answer this question and 364 just like it.
So if you ask if I ask enough questions, I would say absolutely. I would actually say that I ask way too many questions. And anyone that knows me could attest to that. I ask questions to anyone and everyone when I want to . But I always ask genuine questions. I don’t like asking just for the sake of asking. I ask questions that actually intrigue me and I want to know the answer to. I’m always seeking out new and enlightening knowledge. That’s how I keep my mind sharp and my imagination vivid. Questions are my secret weapon. I don’t think I would be nearly as interesting to talk to if I wasn’t so great at asking good questions.
So my question to you now is, is there such thing as asking a bad question?