If you say you want to connect with others but never ask questions, then you don’t really understand connection. The greatest connection often comes from just being willing to ask the question and may have very little to do with what the answer is.
There is some skill to asking good questions.
Ask the right questions. Sometimes you need to ask “WHAT?” What is the issue, what are we dealing with, what just happened? Other times you need to ask “WHY?” Why is this important, why do you feel this way? Then you may need to ask “HOW?” How can I help, how should we address it?
Ask second questions. Second questions often matter more than the first because they explore what really matters. First questions address obvious issues. Second questions explore meaning, purpose and value behind the issues.
First question: What’s frustrating you?
Second question: How can we address it? What can you do to make it better? What can I do to make it better?
First question: What’s your mission?
Second question: Why does your mission matter?
Asking second questions helps others figure things out for themselves. Asking second questions leads to clarity and brings out all the pieces of a story.
Ask one question at a time. Great questions cause people to pause and reflect. Ask your question and then give space and time to answer. Stay curious long enough to get to the real issue because sometimes the first thing you see or hear isn’t really the problem.
Listen to the answers. Henry David Thoreau said, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” Listening makes people feel valued. It allows you to show that you are sincere in the questioning and that you can be trusted with the answers.
It takes courage for someone to answer a question in an honest way. It takes courage to lay something important out in front of others and ask them to consider new ideas.
Ask questions, listen to the answers and then applaud other’s bravery in order to encourage their next question.
Originally shared on the MOPS blog. If you like the idea of connecting with moms in your community, check out MOPS. Find a group near you today!