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Friend(ly) Advisory: Explicit Question Content

All questions are not created equal. While I grew up in the age of the participation trophy, let us not be too hurried to give participation trophies out for any and all questions asked. Why? The quality of the question matters over the instance. You and I can ask good questions. We answer them everyday, even implicitly. Here are some observations that have served me well in asking good questions- and may serve you well in return.


Think. Pause. It's my favorite thing to do. Your mileage from questions will grow if you start here. I hate coming to meetings unprepared, but that does not stop some of you...Do some research. Put the work in. Be thoughtful. Meditating will supercharge your questioning. What would it look for us to do this as a community?


Diverse Community of Thinkers
When We Think Differently, We See and Ask Differently

Be Intentional- be clear about your aim. Be honest. Assess and affirm your genuity. If your why is not crystallized or not appropriate, it may be better to process and order your thoughts to meaningfully engage- there may be some questions you need to ask of yourself first.


Use notes- my best questions often come unprompted from thoughts I have jotted down that intersect with life's present circumstances. Notes are helpful to take and remember, but too many notes can also lead to too many questions or not enough focus on right questions. Synergize- Review what you have written. Read-up. Look for ideas or challenges that might be in-tension. Look for depth-filled probes. Ask those questions. What can I draw from experience and reading? Pick a balance of what seems timely and potentially fruitful. If your questions feel like a checklist, read on.


Detail- Often, the next best question comes from you selecting the subsequent detail or level drill-down from the previous question. Asking "why" and "how" are helpful, but clarifying with specificity and precision can often be just as if not more effective. You might ask, "I heard you say this. When I hear that, I think of this. Am I getting that right?"


Timing- you can ask the right question at the wrong time. For instance, do not ask me how my week was on my way outta church to grub. Nope. Good question- wrong time, unless we are enroute to eat together :).


Format- presentation matters. Is this the right setting to ask this question? Is this the right format/medium? Could we start "here" and finish up "there?"


Be Explicit- Within the safety of relationship, say what you mean. Be frank. Don't beat around the bush. Back in the day, I used to stay away from the CDs marked "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics." To analogize, mark all of your questions with explicit content (you know what I mean).


This may seem overly-engineered, but asking good questions require you to think. No doubt good structure and form help. What would it look like for us to ask better questions of ourselves? Of others? Would we know each other any better? It's why I started my Quarantine-Worthy Quotes series. It's been said, "think before you speak." Have we ever rebutted, "Think before you ask."?


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