People ask each other many questions but what do those questions mean to each of us? How do we understand and interpret questions? How do questions affect us and our relationships with one another?
Asking questions is a skill and the intention behind questions is as important as questions. I always wonder if our intention for asking questions is related to ‘controlling behaviours’ or if it is related to our desire to ‘connect’ with one another. How would you differentiate these two intentions?
I came to realize that questions that lead to ‘controlling behaviors’ have specific characteristics. They tend to be direct, intrusive, violating one’s space; they are more critical of the other person and they somehow are not genuine. Questions that lead to ‘connection’ tend to be more invitational, motivational and encouraging; they are accompanied with curiosity to discover more about the other person.
I learned that questions with the intention of ‘connection’ make a person feel respected and accepted. They open up space for dialogue and conversations; they become venues for exchanging ideas and receiving acknowledgment and they become platforms for further engagement with one’s life.
I also learned that questions with the intention of ‘controlling’ tend to produce fear, intimidation and doubts. They make one feel interrogated, disrespected and violated. They close down conversations; they reinforce the power relations and they reproduce further disconnection.
If our intention of asking questions is to strengthen our connection to and further our understanding of the other person, it seems that it is important to close a gap between our intention and our practice of asking questions. When our intention and our way of questioning are aligned, we move towards a direction of experiencing ‘connection’ otherwise, inadvertently, we may reproduce ‘disconnection’ in relationship.
Do you think becoming aware of your intention could make a difference in the way we ask questions or the way we position ourselves to others? What other things do you think you need to pay attention to when asking questions?
Looking forward to your reflection,
Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT