At the end of our lunch yesterday, my friend apologized for doing all the talking during our time together.  I laughed, because it wasn’t her fault at all:  it was simply that I asked her a stream of questions as we ate.  I discovered this little trick many years ago and employ it regularly.  Why? 

1.  It’s fun.  I already know about me, I don’t know about the other, and asking lots of questions is how I manage to eek a lot of learning out of encounters and conversations. 

2.  It’s inspirational.  Not only do I gain bunches of new info, I also exercise my perceptive abilities and practice deep mining skills.  One learns to make questions increasingly evocative as the dialogue advances.

3.  It’s compassionate.  How often does anyone demonstrate sufficient interest in you to ask you a series of questions about yourself?  I think we very rarely question one another; we hardly ever talk at length about ourselves; the pressures of the business world seem to care nothing for our inner selves and we are dangerously repressed.

Asking questions is another core quality of the creative life, yet it’s something that our schooling and society have de-emphasized, very much to our collective peril.  I hope you’ll seize and run with the very next opportunity to grill someone compassionately.  You’ll benefit from the learning and they won’t know what hit them, but they’ll appreciate the catharsis nonetheless.


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