Companies can operate by force, with bosses barking orders and employees scurrying to do anything they can to please. Many teams are governed by force, with coaches or star players making demands. True relationships are must more intricate, however. Relationships can't survive for long in the midst of coercion, manipulation, or power struggles. That is why honest questions can do so much to make our relationships stronger. Noting the importance of questions, Athol Dickson once wrote, “I have learned that sometimes asking questions is a way to demonstrate humility, because inherent in the question is the assumption that I do not have the answer; God does.1” The humility we show when we ask questions makes our relationships with God and with other people stronger. Here are some of the ways that questions add value to your relationships:
They Give Freedom
When you take the time to ask someone for their opinion or for their perspective on things, you are giving them the freedom to have and express thoughts of their own. Life is easier when everyone shares your opinion, but that rarely happens. The next best thing to agreement is honesty. When you give someone the freedom to be honest, your relationship can grow stronger, even if you disagree.
You think that all of your opinions are the correct ones. Of course you do, or you wouldn’t have those opinions! There’s nothing wrong with believing you are right. Everyone does. The problem comes when you believe that you could never be wrong. We are all wrong sometimes. Asking questions to our kids, spouse, or co-workers gives us a chance to see things that we haven’t seen. We can learn new things and form new opinions that are healthier and stronger. Asking a good question and then honestly listening to its answer helps us grow.
They Add Value
When you ask someone a question you are implicitly saying, “you are a person of value, and I believe that you can add value to my life”. It’s easy to assume we have all of the answers, and to feel that stopping to ask questions is a waste of time. That assumption, however, weakens our relationships. When we ask honest questions, even of our youngest children, we are reminding others that they see things we can’t see, and have ideas that we don’t possess. It reminds others that we are better together than we are apart, and that they are important to us.
Asking questions reminds us that we don't have all of the answers, and that we were made to live life with others. If you haven't taken the time to ask some honest questions to those around you in a while, make a point of doing it today, you'll be glad you did.
1 - The Gospel According to Moses by Athol Dickson (pp.21)