Society teaches us to be leery of questions. Detectives ask questions, offering little in way of information, looking for ways to use the answers against you. Lawyers do the same. There is a sense of when you are questioned, the end result is you will be wrong or bad.
I believe it could be normal to ask questions and people answer them without their defenses up. It takes effort and trust to overcome this societal mindset. One of the ways we can help remove defenses is adjust the way we ask questions.
When understanding is the goal, clarifying questions can open up a conversation. These questions are disarming. It is a way of saying to someone “You are worth understanding, so please help me understand you”. Examples include – “Can you please help me understand why you feel that way?” and “Can you help me understand the factors you weighed when making your decision?”
Interrogating questions have the goal of verifying information with little, if any, explanation. For example – “Did you complete that project that was due yesterday?” It’s a yes or no question. No explanation is required unless requested. The risk with this type of question is people can feel misunderstood or misrepresented, weakening relationships. Use them with caution.
Another risk is the question that hides a lecture. These “questions” almost always destroy relationships. Usually they are condescending and insulting. I cannot think of a situation where these “questions” are effective.
Choose your questions wisely! They can make or break everything.