We celebrated my father, Bill Barrett’s, 100th birthday a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, he was not there as he passed away about 14 years ago. His five children, partners, spouses and grandchildren have very fond memories of this great man. During the evening’s celebration one of my brothers asked us all to share one of those memories.
One of his grandchildren shared something I’d never heard about him before. She said that he once told her the secret to life is to ask questions. Be inquisitive, he said, with everyone you meet and everything you see. She told us, that evening, that this small suggestion changed her life.
Asking questions comes naturally to me sometimes much to the chagrin of my children who often cringe as I would meet a new friend of theirs and ask way too many questions.
But setting aside my kid’s new friends, my inquisitiveness upon meeting someone new would produce a host of potential topics to talk about and sometimes, more importantly, that all important ‘common thread’.
In fact, we have a very close friend who recently revealed the fact that she was taught not to ask questions like I do because she was told it was quite rude. I have adults in my life who it seems will never ask questions about you or things in your life. I actually have a very hard time with this as I think it’s rude not to take an interest in other people’s lives.
Why is it important to be inquisitive and ask questions?
1. I think it shows respect that you take an interest in someone else’s life. Your questions are meant to respectfully probe into someone else’s world being sure not to cross boundaries where you are not welcome.
2. Your questions could reveal the ‘common thread’ between the two of you. It isn’t unusual that there is something you share between the two of you in terms of other people, interests, views on life or business or more. Once established, that common thread can lead to wonderful conversations for both.
3. Your questions have the potential to open up doors you didn’t know existed. From relationships to opportunities to connections beyond the two of you – the potential is boundless.
I do have a habit of going overboard sometimes with my questions: too fast, too many, poorly timed. But when I get it right it is well worth it. I have met some amazing people in my life because of the questions I posed when I first met them. And whether it be the relationship that followed or somewhere else that discussion led me, it is always an adventure.
So, do you ask enough questions? Do you ask any at all? You should.
image provided courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.