Why do you ask?

by Scott Bowen May 15, 2016

Why do you ask?

Here’s a question: How would you rate yourself as a question asker?

I’ve always struggled with asking questions of others. I’ve even found myself leaving conversations wishing I had been more assertive and asked more questions.  While I had a genuine desire to get to know them, I had not taken the opportunity to really get to know them on another level.  Over time, I started challenging myself to see if I could ask more questions of the person than they asked of me. I would keep a mental score card in my head and I don’t like to lose! By asking questions, we break down barriers, create intimacy and put ourselves in the ideal position to be truly present and listen to others. 

By asking questions, we break down barriers, create intimacy and put ourselves in the ideal position to be truly present and listen to others. 

One of the most human of all needs is to feel heard, to feel, that as individuals, we matter.  We want to know that our own personal story, the good and the bad, counts for something. In writing our book, Starting the Family Conversation, we often talked about the power of asking questions.  When we ask questions of others, especially our own families, not only do we make space to learn a great deal, we also bring value to the people we are asking.  By asking questions, we invite our family members to be heard, we build rapport and mutual trust.  We show our loved ones that we are fully engaged and interested not only in their answers, but in them.

In Latin, the word question means to seek.  Think about the root of the word question…quest.  We are on a quest to learn our family members—to be students of them.  We are to seek them out, figuring out what makes them tick, what makes them happy or sad, what fulfills them and brings them joy.  So much of what we learn begins with a great question—an inquiry that goes beyond the surface and draws them out—a great questions can be disarming, even, in a tense or tender moment. 

We are on a quest to learn our family members—to be students of them.

We want others to know that, when we are talking to them, they are the most important person in the room in that moment and that their story, their feelings, their input matters. Why do you ask? To bring value to those you love!

The next time you sit down together as a family, try out the following questions to get started:

  1. What is one lesson you’ve learned in our family that you’d like to teach to your children?
  2. If you could swap places with one of your friends, who would it be, and why?
  3. If you got to pick the next summer vacation, where would you choose to go?




Scott Bowen
Scott Bowen

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