Questions…Good Ones

To have a good conversation, it matters what questions you ask.

Christmas is one week away.

Hopefully, you’ll be gathering with great people around good food and special traditions over the next 7-10 days to celebrate. Also hopefully, you will find a cozy corner and sit down with…, head out on an early morning walk with…, cuddle with a kiddo home from school…, pour a drink and join a few, or sit around a table with many. Opportunities for Christmas conversations are everywhere.

A few comments about questions:* 

  • Do not tell what you could ask. Emphasize a listening over talking and telling this season
  • Avoid “teaching” moments in social discussion by not asking what you already know
  •  The best conversation questions are oriented towards discovery, require thinking and a sharing of what’s inside, instead of information regurgitation skimmed simply off the top.
  • Questions that allow the other people to share what only they can know, allows the one answering the question to share something that will grow a relationship, unveil what’s underneath. We should mostly ask questions of others we cannot know the answer to already.
  • Prompts or invitations help. “Tell me more about…” is a versatile conversation extender and places the opportunity to share back on the one whom you’ve sought in conversation.

One area of my own life where good questions are key right now is in after school conversations with Eli and Andi. I want to draw out of them notes about their almost 8 hour day away, without burdening them.

Drew sent me a link to a Huffington Post article with a list of 25 Ways to Ask Your Kid How School Was Today, without Asking, “How was school today?”

I bookmarked the list in my browser and tried to glance at it just before I’d shut my computer down in the minutes before Eli and Andi were getting off the bus.

The list was helpful and the kids noticed right away that the question was different, a little more intriguing to answer.

Here is a list of some questions that have led us to fun and connectings after school conversations. Some are from the article, others I’ve developed as I’m attempting to change my  default.

  •  Tell me about something that made you laugh today.
  •  Tell me about something that surprised you today. 
  •  What did you do with a friend today?
  •  When did you feel successful today?
  •  Who did you help today?
  •  When did you feel sad today?
  •  Tell me a friend you had fun with during the day?
  •  What was the highlight of your day?
  •  What was hard about today?
  •  Who’s someone you wish you could send to the moon for a day?
  •  What did you hear your teacher say a lot about today
  •  If you were the teacher, what would you have taught today?

I knew it was really helping when Eli came home one day and said, “Mom, I bet you want to know what surprised me today!” The invitation for them to share a story, lay down a frustration, show themselves as the expert on their experience, and let me in on what it’s like out there, is a five minute highlight of my day. Asking better questions of my kids has deepened our relationship and given me great new information. I have experienced the same fruits with some adults lately as well.

I hope Christmas conversations will change me this year.

What do you want to ask about this week? 




*For conversation and discussion purposes only. These guides do not apply to didactic exercises.

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