Asking Great Questions (Pt 3)
Today we are going to focus on asking great questions to help us survive.
The TV show “Survivor” has now completed 26 seasons. That is a lot of surviving that those angry, backbiting, money-hungry, starving people have done. I personally lost interest once I discovered that the show is more about surviving relationships rather than actual survival.
Being in close relationships takes a lot of effort and it is even harder when we are stressed physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. In my work at Project Patch I see wreckage of broken relationships. Surviving relationships isn’t easy especially when there are internal and external forces which both attack.
It makes sense that survival is a main section of Ken Coleman’s book, “One Question: Life-Changing Answers from Today’s Leading Voices.” If you believe in scripture then you also understand that there is a roaring lion (Devil) out there prowling, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). I don’t say this to terrify you, only to remind you that we don’t live in a tame world, instead we live in one in which we need to focus on surviving.
So, how does asking great questions help us survive? Relationships aren’t physically visible. I don’t have a way to know what a person is thinking unless I ask him. Asking will only give me good information if I ask decent questions. I can guess based on body language – stuff being thrown, tears, or avoidance – but those things don’t reveal thoughts and aspirations and many times come after the relationship has suffered a blow. Asking great questions gives us a glimpse into another person’s perspective and thoughts. Asking great questions allows us to get the feedback we need, especially in times of change, conflict, or stress to make sure that our relationship isn’t going to be a casualty.
Now I’m not advocating that we become insecure in our relationships and pester those we love with, “Are we okay?” This kind of insecurity will actually drive people away and isn’t a great question. However, just like a car that has some key areas to watch on the instrument panel, there are key areas in our relationships that we should be getting feedback on, and we can only do that through asking great questions. Sure, some of us guys like the idea of quiet meaning there is no problem, but in reality we don’t create problems by asking, we get a chance to be a part of helping when we ask.
Ken identifies the core reason that we don’t ask great questions about our relationships: We just don’t want to know. Knowing may mean that we need to make some changes. Asking requires great courage to face what the person may tell you. Ken says, “I would take clarity over comfort every day of the week.” That is easier said than done but I’ve come to the point that I agree that I’d rather know and be able to change rather than go on doing things that hurt my family, friends, and team.
Ken goes on to say, “In today’s culture we as parents are so concerned about making our kids feel good, instead of teaching our kids to be good.” Because it isn’t fun to deal with reality especially when it might sting personally, we tend to avoid the very thing that will make us better. In personally demonstrating the ability to process incoming information which may be difficult, we also establish a pattern for our kids focused on “being good rather than feeling good.”
I encourage you to consider a few of the following questions with your spouse. It will take some bravery and if you are going through some stress or trust issues, you may need to dial things back a bit before she feels safe enough to give an honest answer.
- Am I doing anything right now that would cause you to pull away from me?
- What reactions have you seen from me that surprise or concern you?
- Where will we be in our relationship in five years?
- What habits have you seen developing in me that concern you?
- What things do you think could ruin our relationship?
- What do you think would be warning signs that we are growing apart?
I also encourage you to ask great questions of your kids in an age appropriate manner. Hopefully one or two below will help you.
- What things do you think our family needs to be doing more of?
- What do you like about the way I treat Mom/Dad?
- What would you like me to do differently in how I treat Mom/Dad?
- Is there anything about our family that make you feel scared?
- What do your friends’ families do that you wish ours did?
These are just some examples to get you thinking about your own questions. The key is to ask and listen without trying to explain or defend yourself. It takes courage.