Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Questions Help or Hurt Communication?

Q.  I'm unhappy with marriage. My husband rarely volunteers information about himself. At meals I try to get conversation going and nothing happens. In fact, the he seems to resent my questions. Sometimes he acts as though I'm giving them the third degree. What do you suggest?
One way to improve communication with your husband is to stop asking questions! This can produce amazing results in a very short time. Most of us ask too many questions. There are many reasons why we use questions and why questions stop the flow of conversation rather than encourage it. As a talkative person you may have become anxious about what is going on inside your quiet husband. Out of your anxiety you bombard him with questions. The more questions you ask the more pushed your husband feels and the more he withdraws. Thus a vicious circle is formed. 

Questions Can Hinder Communication          
Questions "require" or "demand" an answer. The questioner expects an answer from the other person. Many of us resist anything forced upon us. We politely resist questions by giving one word answers or saying "I don't know."
Questions suggest an unequal relationship. The questioner is in control and is "one-up" on the person being questioned. Think for example of how you feel when questioned by a job interviewer, a teacher or a police officer. We feel good about ourselves when we feel equal to others not when we feel one-down.
Questions trigger defensiveness. The responder often has no idea what prompted your question yet he is expected to give an answer. Even a seemingly simple question may be experienced as an invasion of one's privacy or as a criticism.
Questions often avoid the main issue. For example, if you ask your husband "Do you have to work on Saturday?" He may avoid answering because he thinks you have a major chore in mind for him. Instead tell him what’s behind your question, what you’re wanting – such as "I'd like to go to a movie on Saturday. I hope you won't be too tired." The more you share directly what you think or feel the more your quiet partner will respond. It will take thought and determination to change your habit of asking questions. With time you will learn to say what you’re thinking directly without asking a question.

The right word at the right time is like a custom made piece of jewelry.”  Proverbs 25:11 The Message

Blessings, Dottie

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