To Ask or Not To Ask… That is the Question
I’ve always been a curious person. Even as a little child, my Dad started calling me a Question Box because I was constantly asking questions about everything. As an adult now, I still fire off far too many questions to the nearest person, soliciting jabs from my family.
My teenagers have even labeled me as nosy because of my inquisitions! I refuse to remain passive and I’ll take the jabs, because asking questions adds incredible value to my life and it can do the same for you. By asking questions we gain understanding, build relationships, and impact lives for good.
Curiosity is God-given… We are wired to wonder.
Today I’d like to explore four categories of questions that may bring benefit to you in your life and business.
Spiritual Questions — asking questions of God
I’ll admit, this is my favorite category of questioning, because I believe that ultimately God is the One with all the answers no matter the topic. Spiritual questions bring clarity to the biggies… Who am I? Why am I here? How did I get here? Maybe you aren’t sure what beliefs you hold.
Maybe you feel like you’ve been taught what to believe by well-meaning adults including your parents, but you’ve never had the freedom to seek on your own. Perhaps you grew up in a church where you understood that questions indicate doubt or even rebellion, so you’ve been afraid to ask your questions.
Scripture shows us that while God doesn’t always answer in the way we want, He welcomes our questions when we come from a place of sincerity and not rebellion. We see throughout the Psalms that the writers even ask God why he hides in times of trouble? Have you ever wondered “Where are you now, God?”
Even in asking these questions, we see a pattern of affirmation of God’s goodness and love and power after the tough questions are asked. God invites us into close relationship with him so when we come with a humble spirit and an open mind, he welcomes our questions. In Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We can trust that God can handle our questions. In fact, for some of us, the closeness God desires with us requires that we ask him our questions.
Relational Questions — asking questions of other people
Personal questions of others reveal your natural curiosity and your desire to get to know them. These person-to-person questions help you build a relationship, express concern and compassion for what’s going on in their lives, and help you determine how you can help or serve them.
I’m constantly amazed at how often I’m able to connect a friend or colleague to help just by asking questions about what’s going on in their lives. From recommending a realtor to suggesting a good book or restaurant, finding out about people’s current situations allows you to be a vessel of love and help.
Just recently, I had a friend who opened up about some struggles with her child. Although I don’t have any personal experience with this specific type of challenge as a Mom, I immediately thought of two other Mom’s who have had experiences and success in similar areas of challenge and was able to connect my friend to both of them with their permission.
If I hadn’t asked her some questions about her family and her kiddos, this mom would have missed out on encouragement and even medical help for her child.
Of course she could have chosen not to share, and as the question-asker, we should always be respectful of others’ privacy. When our motives are pure, though, to care for others and to be a blessing, we shouldn’t feel afraid to inquire about people.
I’ve made many acquaintances on airplanes or waiting in line — I’ve always loved to learn about people’s stories, but as I’ve matured, I’ve seen real value in listening well and offering a word of encouragement or a smile.
Business Questions… asking questions of potential clients or colleagues
Through wise questioning, you can determine your next strategic move in your business. You can also discover how to best serve others with your products or services through asking simple questions. In my skin care business, if someone seems open or interested in our skin care products, I start off with the simple question, “If you could change one thing about your skin, what would it be?” We can then explore the products that best suit their needs.
Because I coach and train people toward success in their own businesses, I have several questions I ask to explore their potential interest and openness to the opportunity I’m sharing. Here are some examples:
- What do you do for work and what do you like/not like about it?
- Do you see yourself enjoying life if you continue in your current role at work for the next 20 years (or however long until potential retirement)?
- Does your current financial situation give you wiggle room for travel, generous giving, or emergency preparation?
- Do you have flexibility in your work? Do you feel anxious at the thought of being laid off or sending your kids to college?
- Have you ever considered doing something else on the side that could give you career options?
- Do you plan to continue working that many hours until your retire? How long will that be?
- Does your current situation give you the time you want with your family?
Inner Reflection… asking questions of yourself
When we take time to pause and ask ourselves some key questions, we often gain the clarity to live a more fulfilled life. Asking yourself questions can help you uncover your passion and fulfill your purpose.
- When do I feel happiest?
- What do others see as my strengths? Don’t be afraid to ask. Go out and poll your closest family members and friends!
- How am I spending my time? Does that time allocation reflect my priorities?
- Where do I envision myself thriving?
- What are my Strengths Finder Top 5 attributes?
When we examine where our skills intersect with our joy, we’ve found a potential area of purpose. As a personal example, I’ll share some career changes I made intentionally a few years ago. By nature, I’m happiest when connecting with people. I enjoy affirming and building others up. I also LOVE to learn. Close friends say my key strength is putting people at ease quickly, being authentic, and making others feel important.
I’m also a facts girl… I appreciate hard data behind positions. These were not intersecting in my accounting career. I often felt unfulfilled and started carefully eyeing the clock. My relational gifts sat idol and I felt trapped behind my desk and computer. I longed for client interaction or chats with coworkers.
BUT, I found a perfect fit in my current career in Network Marketing. You can hear/read more here. I found the intersection of what I enjoy and what I’m good at. Of course I still have challenges and areas of weakness to work on, but I’m really happy in what I’m doing — this is such a big change!
Tips on asking good questions:
- Check your heart. Why are you asking the question? Are you being nosy to get information that really isn’t your business? Are you pretending to be interested in someone because you are trying to find someone who will join you in business or buy your products? People sniff this a mile away. Don’t be “that girl” and instead, make sure you are coming from a place of giving and genuineness.
- Just be you. Don’t let your fear of what others think hinder you from connecting and caring.
- Ask for feedback. Gathering input from others helps us grow!
- Go to God. Let’s admit it… some things just can’t be answered well without Him. “Am I on the right track? God, will you help me? Will you show me the way?”
- Don’t be afraid to ACT when you get answers and direction. I am the queen of procrastination, perfectionism, and doubt. If we want to make our dent in this life, we must be doers, accepting the imperfect path and moving forward without all the answers.
The End Game?
Asking questions is a vital part of building relationships and learning. Failure to ask the questions that surface inside our minds may indicate fear inside. This fear holds us back from engagement and can keep us from helping others. Conversely, pride can also hold us back.
We assume we already know what we need to know and miss out on learning and growing. I encourage you to experiment with questions the next time you’re in a conversation. Your interest in someone else may bring the blessing of compassion that fills someone’s cup.