Meaningful questions create meaningful relationships. When asked for the right reasons they connect us with one another in beautiful ways.
Hello everyone and welcome to episode 96. Today we consider how asking meaningful questions help create meaningful relationships.
We’ve been talking about the 3 components of the O.R.A. principle of deepening our relationships: Observe – Remember –Ask. We’ve touched on the Ask component before, but today I want to go into more detail about this Ask element and talk about what happens inside of us when someone asks us a meaningful question. I’ll do that by sharing two stories with you.
I may have told this story in a prior episode, but it bears repeating for our purposes today, and with more depth than I explained the last time.
The encounter with L. B. when at Camp, she asked “how are you doing?” And we said, fine (F.I.N.E). And she came back with “No, really. How are you doing? I want to know.”
Her response took me aback, She wasn’t accepting my surface answer.
I felt like she really cared, unlike most other times when I’m asked that question, and when I ask others the same thing. What told me she cared?
She pushed the envelope, not only with her words, but with her body language. She came running after us.
Janet had the window down on her side of the car and L.B leaned in, with her elbows on the open door sill. She said so much with her eyes. You could tell she wanted to know.
What an innocuous question, “How are you doing?” She turned this relational cliché into a meaningful relational connection by how she asked the question. By running to us. Leaning into our personal space. With her eyes. And by rejecting our surfacing dismissive response. It was a connecting moment from a few years ago that I still think about today.
Janet and both felt cared about in a deep way that day
- I needed to schedule a time for an electrician to come to our house.
- I mentioned I work out of our house, so someone could come most anytime. Then he said, “What do you do?”
- You wouldn't think this was a meaningful question, but it was
- I told him about our missionary care ministry
- That usually shuts people up, and they change the subject. Like Fred, our former neighbor, who when he heard what I did started talking about his Panama Canal cruise.
- But this electrician sounded interested in my response
- “My great-grandfather was a missionary in Canada. He planted 4 or 5 churches in logging camp communities in his lifetime. He wrote several books, too. I have them, but haven’t read them.”
- I found the guy fascinating, he established a connection between the two of us that started with him asking me another relationally clichéd question, “What do you do?
He said he never met his great-grandfather or his grandfather who both died before he was born.
My electrician friend talked about visiting one of the communities where his great-grandfather planted a church, and how when people heard the family name, their eyes lit up, and with “Oh, you are so and so’s descendant? What a great man, and we have fond memories of him.”
He didn’t ask any follow-up questions, which was fine, because he drew me into his story of his family history.
The story he told made me want to know more. Good questions will do that.
And it made him want to know more about his family history. He told me he needed to ask his father more about his grandfather.
The electrician said our conversation prompted him to look for those books his great-grandfather wrote, and to talk to his own father to ask him more about his grandfather.
Our relationship was a business relationship, but the more we talked, the more I liked him personally. Maybe I’ll invite him for Thanksgiving. Or Carol, would you like to have him over for New Year’s eve?
So he benefited from our interaction. He started it off by asking me a question. It motivated him to ask questions about his family history. He sounded sincere.
So what does all this mean for YOU? What action can you take in response to today’s program? Here are a few ideas:
The Obvious thing is ask meaningful questions. Better questions. Questions with the right motive that will lead somewhere, not an end unto itself.
Questions asked in a manner that shows you care. And you can do this with even all-too-common questions like “How are you?,” and “What do you do?”
Check out episodes 64 and 65 that go into detail about the kind of questions we can ask.
That relationship quote of the week from episode 75 on October 28, 2020, “When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.” Sticks in my mind as it relates to my electrician friend’s ancestors
Go to you “library” ask your parents and especially grandparents, meaningful questions. It will do you a world of good. It will deepen your relationship with them. Do it before its too late and your “library” burns down.
Unless we’re just exchanging news and information, the questions we ask of each other can be an important tool in deepening our relationships with each other.
Ask God to help you have eyes and ears for other people. It will bring out the best in you.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
Meaningful questions create meaningful relationships. When asked for the right reasons, in the right manner, connect us with one another in beautiful ways.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I may share them in a future episode, unless you say otherwise. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, if you found the podcast helpful, please subscribe and I’d appreciate it if you would leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts. It will help us to serve more people just like you.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
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