Skip to main content

Asking better questions is risky

This past Sunday, our men's group started going through the book Conversationally Speaking. It is amazing to me how poorly we communicate. Most people have decent social skills but we all have glaring weaknesses. For most Asian Americans, it's mostly due to poor modeling and training. If you grew up in the bay area, chances are one or more of your parents were engineers and school never taught them how to have a decent conversation. My conversational weaknesses range from the common (running out of things to say or ask) to the more unique due to my personality (aggressive, intimating, confrontational, and offensive).

That's why I'm so exciting about this book. I heard about it on a game blog that is not Christian in any way. And yet this book club this is where game and Christianity intersect. Christian men should, by default, have game because we have a purpose much larger than ourselves.

The first chapter is about asking open-ended questions. Too often, we fire closed questions like an assault rifle on full auto, hoping our target will succumb - "Where do you live? How far is it? What do you do? Do you like it? Do you not like it?" It's death by interrogation.

The solution, of course, is to ask better questions - open-ended questions. "What do you enjoy most about living in the bay area? You work for Apple, which I heard is very competitive, how do you negotiate the office politics?" And the more specific you are, the more effective the question is in promoting conversation.

What makes better questions risky though is that they are by nature difficult to answer in one or two words. They require thinking. Often we resort to closed questions because we're trying to make it easier on the other person by inviting them to say less rather than more. It's probably due to laziness on our part and our desire to avoid any awkward silence.

Lastly, better questions are risky is we might not like what we hear. This past weekend, I practiced asking open-ended questions with Caleb, my 11-year old son. I asked him about his current Wii obsession, Skylanders Giants, "So Caleb, what's the goal of the game? And how is it better than the other games you have?" He looked at me, somewhat exasperated and said "Why you don't you just play it, dad?"

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Unsolvable Problems in Marriage I: Lowering Expectations

Different expectations of conflict From a recent Facebook post: Working on a post about unsolvable problems in marriage: For those who have been married five or more years, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much expectation did you have entering into marriage that communication could resolve any conflict between you and your spouse? How would you rate that expectation now? People often enter into marriage thinking that most if not all their conflicts can be resolved. Women come into marriage thinking "I can make my husband a better man". Men come into marriage thinking, "My wife will learn to see things my way". This idealistic view of marriage does not survive contact with the enemy. Even for couples for whom the first years of marriage are conflict-free, raising children is its own brand of unsolvable problem. And then there's sickness and mental health issues, job changes, unemployment, moving, and shifts in friendships. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. A number