Assumptions Affect What Questions We Ask

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Assumptions affect what questions we ask.

They also affect how we ask them.

And if we ask them.

Just one more way in which assumptions are so pervasive. They literally affect every aspect of communication.

Asking questions can be challenging. If you’re not someone for whom asking questions comes naturally, this might be a tough strategy to get on board with. Asking questions can cause anxiety. You might wonder whether the question you want to ask is going to create tension or a conflict.

Even for those of us who feel more comfortable asking questions, it can take some effort to make sure we’re doing it the right way. Asking a question is not helpful if it’s asked in a way that shuts the other person down before the conversation even begins. The strategy of saying, “I was just asking a question” doesn’t fly. We all need to take much more ownership over how our questions come across than that.

One way to begin is to internally question ourselves (and therefore our assumptions) before externally asking questions of others.

Assumptions directly dictate the kind of questions we ask, how we ask them, and if we ask them. Our assumptions are often built right into the way we formulate our questions. We may be assuming things about the answers. Or about what the other person is willing to share. Or whether the other person will correctly interpret the intent and tone of the question.

We don’t take enough responsibility for carefully crafting the “right” questions.

The ones that don’t have any assumptions built into them.

The courageous ones.

The ones to which we don’t already have the answers.

We can’t just ask more questions.

We need to ask the right questions, the right way, for our audience.

 

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