Why do we ask questions? Some questions come from the head. The ones when we simply need to know a fact, a detail, a quick answer. A straight line to a fixed destination. Other questions grow out of curiosity from our gut. We really want to know, but we’re okay wondering, wandering through a forest without a map, discoveries unfolding.
These kinds of discoveries were everywhere at a recent parent workshop. All it took was an open, wondering question. A question we all wanted to know the answer to. There was no one right answer, and that’s what made it great. What is the biggest challenge you face as a parent? One dad echoed others when he remarked, “I’ve never been asked that question before, so I hadn’t taken the time to think about it, much less share my response.” The exchanges that evening were potent. Real. And rare.
Without thinking, let alone wondering, we often ask anyone we encounter—at the supermarket checkout line or in the post office—“How’s work? “How are the kids?” “How was your weekend?” Consider another option: smile or wave. You don’t have to pose polite questions in greeting everyone all the time. When you do, you’re expending energy you can save for when you want to connect and are really wondering about something.
Curiosity is innately a part of us, though you may have to dig to uncover it. Let your gut guide you. It almost doesn’t matter what you ask, but that you crave the answer. Who are you curious about? And what do you want to know? When you seek to understand someone in a new way, you are asking to know them better. And it’s time well spent. At the very least, it gives the other person a chance to pause; when you both have the time, it creates a moment of real connection
Ask any 4-year-old. A youngster’s dialogue contains up to 80% questions, while adults spend just 15-20% of the time asking questions. When children pepper us with questions, they do it to understand the world and how they connect to it. Adolescents re-learn how to be curious on our weekend retreats. They understand it’s more than okay not to have all the answers. It’s actually better. They practice being curious and wondering out loud. Good questions are followed by great conversations. Potent and real.
It’s not rare. We have the time. So do you. What trail will your gut lead you down? We don’t know yet, and that’s the best part.