If you are a social media person, there is a new Instagram game going around based on questions. People put a box on their story and entitle it “Ask me anything” and then they share the questions and answers. It’s really fun. And I’ve learned maybe too much about those I follow (read stalk) on Instagram. What’s interesting is that it’s not just celebrities offering to answer any question, it’s regular people too, people with three hundred followers, people who don’t have to do the whole public relations, marketing thing. Why?
Deep within all of us, we have a desire to be understood.
We have a desire to show what we know. We have a desire to be well, asked questions, and get to give answers. It’s flattering when people ask questions. It’s fun. It makes us feel important and loved and wanted.
Yet, a huge part of southern culture (and I suspect many other cultures as well) is not to ask questions. We assume they will be offensive. We assume we are being annoying. We assume things will go wrong. And sometimes, honestly, we just don’t care. We don’t care enough to learn the story behind the pain. We don’t care enough to ask about background or opinions. We don’t care enough to engage. And that leads us to assumptions, the basis of all bad relationships and most bad decisions.
What if we just lived a life that not only offered to answer anything, but chose to ask those around us all the questions?
How would that change our understanding of each other? How would that help us to grow, see beyond our own experiences, and build deeper relationships?
There was a great article on the importance of deep conversations in building relationships. In fact, the article was so compelling, that people started having parties where small talk was banned. Instead, people were urged to truly have real conversations about real issues. And the result was that they connected, made real relationships, learned something new, and felt better (get this!) about their own self worth. Why? Because when we ask and listen and take the time to clarify our own views by having to defend them, we gain confidence and we lose fear.
Fear relies on assumptions and misinformation. It uses our lack of questions as a weapon. And fear leads to bad decisions, bad policies, and even bad relationships.
So, today, don’t wait for the instagram post. Ask someone something. Maybe warn them, “Hey, can I ask you question? I’d like to know more about you and how you think!” Or maybe don’t warn them. What this new fad has taught me once again is that most of us would love to have someone ask us questions and truly care about the answers.