Previously I posted a blog on the value of asking good questions, which can be found HERE
Why these blogs on questions? Recently our family started using Table Topics Family edition at the dinner table. These good questions have really been fun for us. They have been a reminder of the blessing of good questions, which led to this challenge for each of us to become better question askers.
This follow up post will cover a more practical look at what makes a good question and how can we become better at this valuable skill.
What makes a good question a good question?
In the last blog post I encouraged asking questions that get to the heart. Good questions do just that. There is no specific one size fits all good question, but typically it is a set of questions that helps you get to the heart. Here are three ways to think of Questions:
Good questions are like flashlights: Imagine people are like a dark room. You want to understand where you are and know how to navigate. But it is dark; questions are like quick bursts of light that help put the dark room in perspective. Each one is limited, but if you ask enough questions your mind starts to put together the bigger picture.
Good questions are like arrows: When I am counseling someone I often ask lots of questions. Sometimes my questions are like flashlight type questions. They help me understand what is going on and how things connect together. Other times, the questions are like arrows. Remember that scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe tells the archers to release all of their arrows at the same time? When the arrows are released some hit the ground, others trees, others bounce off armor, but others go deep. Questions are like arrows because although not everyone will get to the heart, on occasion one will slip past the defenses we all naturally put up. When that one question hits the target you know “okay now we are getting somewhere, let’s keep going.”
Good questions are like minesweeper: Do you remember that computer game? The board is a bunch of boxes and you are clicking around trying to figure out where all of the explosives are. If you make the wrong decision there is an explosion, but if you use your clicks wisely you are able to figure the puzzle out. Good questions help you navigate, understand and know where the sensitive spots are.
In these three ways you can see how Questions are the key to being able to fulfill Proverbs 20:5. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
But, Even if we are convinced that we should be good at asking questions…
How do we get better at asking good questions?
Develop your curiosity-The best students are those that are actually interested in the subject matter. To be good at getting to know people you have to want to get to know people. You have to feed the natural curiosity. What makes people tick? What brings them joy? What do they value? You can’t learn these things without learning to listen and when we learn to listen we learn how to ask the next question. When looking to get to know someone, to make them feel loved, you aren’t looking for the perfect question, you are looking for the next question.
Learn from a Jedi- In the star wars movies, one becomes a Jedi by getting trained by a Jedi. Let’s be honest some people are just really good at asking questions. If you want to be good at asking questions spend time with those people. Do you know anyone who is really good at asking questions? Who is it that has an ability to get you talking, to draw you out, to make you feel known and loved just by a question (not even advice)? Identify those people and then learn from them.
For me two people who are full-blown Jedi’s when it comes to question asking are Tyler Dirks and Palmer Trice. Sometimes when I spend time with those guys it feels like they are asking me so many good questions that they can’t get a word in edgewise. Often that isn’t a realization in the moment, but rather one that comes later. Once you have identified those people examine the types of questions they ask. How does one question flow into another and show they have been listening? How do their questions make you let your guard down? feel loved and cared for?
Use good resources- If you aren’t good at asking questions then get some help. Two ideas would be to attend an upcoming Barnabas Basic training. In the past we have sent our Life Group leaders through this because this training is designed to make you a better spiritual friend. One that has been trained in how to ask questions that get to the heart and to know how to point others to Christ once you get there.
Another option is to order a resource like Table Topics. There are a few options (Warning from a simple Amazon Search I realized not all options are appropriate), but our family has been using TableTopics Family at the dinnertable and it has been really fun!
We want the men of Uptown church to be great fathers. This past weekend we had the Father/Child Knight’s night and when the dad’s picked up their tickets they also picked up a list of 22 questions to spark conversations between the dads and their kids (picture below). Asking the kids these questions was a real treat because in this current season of life we have had to press pause on solo daddy dates. So, although I have 4 kids with me it was great to get out with them, to ask them good questions, to connect and to enjoy their responses.
Although we may not have dedicated weekly daddy daughter dates there are windows in every week, and windows in every day when I can pursue the hearts of my kids through good questions. That not only goes for children, if we are intentional we can use questions to get to know and love others throughout everyday. For instance: What questions could you ask to draw out the heart of your spouse tonight? What about your coworkers…maybe you only have 5 minutes how can you use a question to make headway into knowing and caring about them? What about a neighbor, how can a question help you love your neighbor as yourself? Think about it, who is the lord impressing upon your heart? Go ahead, stand up, go ask them a question, text them, or come up with a question for when you arrive home. Go and love one another by asking good questions.
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp