Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Asking The Right Questions.................Or Not

Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought him back.

References to this adage appeared in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing cautioning about the dangers of unnecessary exploration or investigation.  The moral is simple; asking too many questions may result in unexpected and perhaps unpleasant consequences.  Whether it be the 1513 or 2013, the principle remains the same.  So what is a person who loves to ask questions--namely me---to do?  How many questions are too many and which ones just aren't the right ones to ask?

I'm curious by nature.  If you tell me something that interests me I am apt to ask at least one follow up question. Or more.  Tease me with just a hint of information and my natural instinct is to pepper you with questions until the full story is revealed.  In some situations this may be appropriate; in others it definitely is not.  I like to think I know where the line of what questions to ask when lies.  I'll ask questions about your views on current news or recent  happenings in your home country but if your answers are cagey or vague I'm likely to not push the issue.  This doesn't mean I won't think about what you said, or perhaps more importantly, what you didn't say, but I have enough tact to know when not to push the issue.  Maybe you can't say more.  Since I dislike being put in uncomfortable situations where I might have to say I can't talk about it, I can respect your position of not being able to do the same. And of course there are some questions that just shouldn't be asked. If you have a question about someone else's family, job, or views, my response is to tell you to ask them yourself.  Please don't put me in the awkward position of having to talk about someone else.  (That my friends is called gossip).  In my opinion asking overly personal questions of all but the closest friends is beyond tacky and is just plain rude.  Maybe you wouldn't mind sharing the same level of personal information but if I want to share that level of information I will be the one to raise the subject.

Ironically enough, I am the same person who immediately becomes suspicious if I am on the receiving end of too many questions.  Ask me how my son is or how our vacation was and I am comfortable with that. Based on your reaction I might even expand my original answer.  Ask me probing questions about exactly what we did, who we saw, and why we travelled to our destination and I might become a bit suspicious. Ask me questions that come completely out of the blue or hint at something you should know nothing about and I am instantly on alert. 

For me, asking questions is all in the nuances of the context in which the inquiry is being posed.  In the right situation questions are a jumping off point for great conversation and greater knowledge about a subject.  In the wrong situation they cause anxiety, suspicion, and perhaps confusion.  Questions can be very good and I will continue to ask them; I will just make sure they are appropriate before I pose them.

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