I would like to continue to expound on how to ask questions and why they are a powerful tool to acquire. My objectives are 1) Explain why questions are important in a spiritual discussion; 2) Identify who has the burden of proof; 3) Describe basic questions you can ask in almost any situation; and 4) Understand how not to respond when confronted with a difficult question. I begin with why ask questions in a conversation? I have 6 good reasons.
- It makes your conversation a discussion and not a lecture. People desire to talk to individuals who respect them and their opinions. You can show a person respect without sacrificing the truth and agreeing with them. By asking questions you will not dominate the conversation; it will be a discussion. People love to talk about themselves and offer their opinions. Asking questions allows them to do just that. This will make you a very attractive person to talk to.
- It forces you to practice your listening skills. Too many people have poor listening skills either because they don’t care what the other person is saying or they are busy thinking about what they’re going to say next. Listening intently to the other person will provide you with your next set of questions. It also demonstrates respect. It shows them you care about what they have to say. Your follow-up questions show you were listening. My wife and her youngest brother are experts at asking good questions. They listen and ask probing questions to go deeper. Both of them are the easiest people to talk to. Their listening skills demonstrate to others they care.
- Takes the pressure off you and puts them on the spot to defend. So much of the time we react to opinions and feel compelled to respond. If we ask questions instead of immediately responding, it puts the ball in their court where it belongs. They now have to defend their opinion. Many times this will unmask the weakness of the individual’s position.
- Gives you time to think of how to respond. When hit with an opinion we need time to think about how we’re going to answer their objection. A question back to the person puts them on the defensive and lets you think through how to respond.
- Good questions helps ensure you understand their viewpoint. We never want to misrepresent the position of the other person. Questions will help clarify definitions and protect against misunderstanding their position. A “straw man” argument is when you attack a position the person doesn’t hold. Questions will help clarify his position.
- They will unmask poorly reasoned belief systems. When a person expresses an opinion many times he is repeating something he heard from someone else. Questions will expose faulty thinking and make him rethink his position.