Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How Good Questions Build Strong Relationships

The heart of this blog is relationships, how to enjoy them, and how to repair them when they have broken down. For that reason, I write a good deal about communication. Communication is the life blood of relationships. Couples that communicate well tend to have strong marriages. Families that communicate well handle adversity better than other families. Work places where good communication exists are more productive and more enjoyable. One component of good communication that is often overlooked is the importance of good questions. Communication thrives when it includes the right kind of questions. Here are a few of the things good questions can do to make your communication better and your relationships stronger:

Good Questions Invite Conversation

Good questions are open-ended, that is, they can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, but invite greater explanation. If someone in your family or work isn’t incredibly talkative, a good question will keep them from simply answering yes or no. Sometimes people just need to find a comfort level in a conversation before they open up and relax. Good questions will help them do that. For example, “Did you go to the game this weekend?” isn’t a good question. “How was the game this weekend?” is much more likely to start a conversation.

Good Questions Welcome Different Opinions

We’ve all been in conversations where someone is rambling on about how much they hate this political candidate and that new album, and about how anyone who eats fast food is irresponsible. It’s hard to find a place in that conversation to offer up that you are actually voting for the candidate that they hate so much, and that you just bought that new album which you plan to listen to on the way home after you hit the McDonald’s drive-thru. Good questions allows people to have their own opinion. If you can’t talk with someone you disagree with, you will spend your life talking with the small number of people who think exactly as you do, or with people who don’t mind lying to you to humor you. Differences are not to be feared. We can learn from them, and they can often add to our enjoyment of the other person. Good questions allow honest disagreement.

Good Questions Show That I Care

It can be easy to talk about what’s going on with me without even realizing that we haven’t talked about you yet. Good questions show that I care about what’s going on with you. They allow me to hear about your day and learn more about you. When you are asked a question and you feel that the person asking really cares about the answer, you feel valued. That value will make the conversation flow more smoothly and will add enjoyment to the relationship.

Struggling with a relationship in your life? Take a second to think up some good questions. It will make the communication easier and over time will make the relationship stronger.

Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

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