Ask more questions
Ask better questions
Ask the same question in different ways
But never ask for permission to ask a question. Just question everything. Absolutely everything.
What you hear
What you see
What you feel
What you believe
What others tell you
What others claim to be truth
What others make you feel
What others do
Systems and structures around you
Experts and idiots alike
Children and adults
Friends, family and enemies
Question them all. Do not just accept what is placed before you.
The expansion, creativity and growth that comes from asking questions comes because of the intention behind those questions.
Questions asked from a place of bullying authority, create fear.
Imagine this scene –
A young child has gotten into her mother’s handbag and pulled out the diary and big green marker pen she found in the bag. She has happily scrawled on page after page, leaving what she believes to be beautiful pictures of fairies, trees and cats for her mother to enjoy. THEN her mother walks into the room, takes in the scene and the first thing asks, with horror and rage in her voice is, “what have you done?”
Because of that intention of, ‘you have done something you should not have and it has made me angry’, the child feels the status dynamic of be less than. Just by the intention and tone of those four words, that child automatically knows that no matter what she answers she is in trouble.
Questions asked from an intention to prove that one knows more about a subject, create arguments or feelings of inadequacy
The most common question to stir this pot would be, ”Why would you do it that way?”. Imagine this asked by a teacher, a spouse, a sibling and you get the idea. However sometimes it can be more insidious than this. Have you ever been at a conference or in a meeting and someone asks a question about what is being said, but you can just feel that they are asking the question in such a way as to showcase that they might know more than the speaker.
Questions asked out of fear of getting it wrong, create intolerance.
“Are you sure its ok if…?”
“what if I get it wrong?”
Questions that ask someone else to validate your competence, capability or confidence can wear thing after a while and imply that you are not really wanting to engage with the situation.
Questions asked because you weren’t listening in the first place, create mistrust.
There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification or an affirmation of something. However to repeatedly ask the same question after an answer has been given once, twice, multiple times, or ask exactly what has just been answered, or to ask a question over the top of someone trying to explain something before they have finished – indicates not really listening at all. That the question is not really related to what is being communicated but is rather coming from the askers own internal dialogue with themselves. This can make it feel like the other party is of little importance, and trust cannot be built in an atmosphere of disrespect.
Whether the above occur in the setting of one person to another, a group of people, or within ones own internal dialogue, they will create the same impact on the person, situation being questioned. To belligerently demand answers will not foster compassion, kindness, connection and creativity - whether that be from another person, an institution or even from oneself.
But questions that bubble up from an intense curiosity to want to engage with what is being presented and who is presenting it, create:
Without curiosity for the world, other people, situations, our own thoughts, beliefs and actions, our bodies and our place in the world – there is no excited anticipation of endless possibilities.
So ask more questions filled with curiosity and wonder.