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After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding…  (Luke 2:46-47)

Harrison shared the following with us at the training last week:

  • The questions we ask reveal more about us than the answers we give.
  • A person is judged not by the answers they give but on the quality of questions they ask.
  • It is therefore crucial that we question our questions.

Questions can be categorized into two basic groups, open and closed. For more on this see Gary Lockwood’s, How to Ask Intelligent Questions with Impact.

In practical steps…

  1. Do you need to ask the question? – What reason/justification?
  2. Choose the appropriate type of question to ask – open/closed, objective/subjective, inviting/problem-solving etc.
  3. Check your motives for asking the question. (Point-scoring, prying or genuine)
  4. Avoid confrontation – use polite suggestions instead.
  5. Deal with the answer. Question the answer?

Note: Africans and westerners approach questions differently. Whereas simple open questions communicate interest in the west, Africans perceive this as interrogation. More often than not Africans will offer information on what they wish the other person to talk about whereas westerners will expect them to ask questions. Africans feel awkward with short succinct answers (which seem disinterested or unfriendly) so delve into long-winded descriptions and this comes across as insincere to westerners (as if hiding something). This can be very frustrating on both ends hence need for cross cultural sensitivity.

For more see Daniel Wendler’s, Invitation: The Art of Good Questions in Conversation on the ‘Improve Your Social Skills’ site.

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