The art of asking questions

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Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by the thought method co.

  • Asking questions is the foundation of self-investment and helps build confidence
  • It can be scary to ask questions when you are out of practice or were never taught
  • Here is how to integrate question asking into your life

Asking questions takes practice

In “The Four Agreements” Don Miguel Ruiz theorizes that we, “make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.” 

He was wrong. 

Truth is: people don’t ask questions because they lack practice, not courage.

It’s likely most people were discouraged from asking questions since they were kids. It’s even more likely they were never encouraged to ask questions al all. If you haven’t been taught to ask questions, it’s unrealistic to expect you to know how without learning how to first.

And you need to learn to ask questions and incorporate question asking into your communication style.

Benefits of asking questions

When you ask questions you avoid making assumptions, gain clarity and gather relevant information to make informed decisions.

Information is power and when you ask questions you step into your power. You remove confusion and respond to situations in a way that aligns with your goals. You stop focusing mental energy on wondering “what ifs” and make decisions based on what is. 

What question asking looks like

Recently I was seeing someone who gave mixed messages. He said he didn’t want a relationship but he was acting like we were in a relationship: buying me gifts, texting me every day, trying to hang out every night, getting jealous when I would date other people. 

Typically I would have allowed the situation to continue without discussing the inconsistencies. I’d be utterly confused and I would spend time in my mind and with friends trying to figure out what this guy’s deal was.

Instead, I asked him, “hey you told me xyz but your gestures and actions are saying abc, what’s going on?” 

He confirmed he wasn’t looking for anything serious. I then realized his jealousy was due to him trying to control me, and his desire to see me every day was just because of loneliness.

Seeing his actions for what they really were empowered me to open space in my life for someone who can give me what I want and need. 

How to Ask Questions 

Easier than it sounds, asking questions can be nerve-wracking. Just keep in mind that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 

You can start by thinking of times when you wish you asked questions and think of questions that would have been helpful in that situation. You can also think of confusing situations you are in now and what questions will help you gain clarity. 

If you feel nervous or uncomfortable asking you can lead with qualifiers:

“Out of curiosity,”
“For clarity”
“I’m confused and would really appreciate your feedback.”
“Just checking in,”
“Can we talk about xyz?”

Helpful Tips and Tricks

It’s a use it or lose it type deal. So if you aren’t in the habit of asking questions, then asking questions may feel uncomfortable. You might not even think to ask and that’s OK. You are aware of the situation now and your job is to build the question asking habit.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Think of yourself as a detective and ask questions from a place of curiosity, not judgment
  • Asking questions is like a muscle, the more you ask the easier it will become
  • If you forget to ask a question and then remember after the conversation is over, you’re making progress. Soon your awareness will be closer to the event until it is in real time
  • Not getting the answer you want can be upsetting, but it’s better to know the answer than to be left in the dark
  • Asking questions can be scary, especially if the stakes are high or something important is on the line. Remember that you are nervous because you care and it’s awesome that you care
  • Being direct and asking questions can feel aggressive when you aren’t used to asking questions. Keep going

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