Friday, September 10, 2010



I'm am an asker of questions. Many, many questions. All of the time. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my mother told me that my first word was "why".

But here's the thing: I'm starting to learn that as much as people say they are open to questions, that questions rock, ask away, etc, etc... it's not true. People don't like questions. Not really. Especially if you ask tricky questions that challenge assumptions or ideas. That force people to look at things from another perspective. Or to examine their own opinions.

I have an analytical mind. I want to know why, how, when, where, what, and who. I tell everyone I meet, that I have questions. That I ask a lot of questions. And everyone says that's great, no problem, bring them on, we love questions. But I'm always confronted, eventually, with the fact that this isn't true. And I'm not someone who asks a lot of stupid questions (yes, there is such a thing). I pay attention (usually, and if I haven't, I don't ask) and I always try to ask pertinent questions and I restrict how many I ask because I know too many questions can derail the conversation. In general, I would say that while I ask a lot of questions, I'm fairly conscientious about my question asking cause I know how irritating questions can be if there are too many or redundant questions...

Eventually though, people get tired of questions.

And I've come to the conclusion that people don't like my questions because they feel like I'm disagreeing when I ask them. But just because I want to know, it doesn't mean that I don't agree. And herein lays my biggest problem.

I'm a questioner who is ultimately rather submissive in nature. My rebellions, the few that there are, have all be relatively tame. Oh sure, I have a couple of tattoos and a pierced nose, and I don't have the best school attendance record but I was on the yearbook club and the grad committee. And I think family is important and there are certain things I would just never do (sometimes I can surprise people by how conservative and prudish I can be). Ultimately, I'm a self-proclaimed non-joiner who always joins in the end. Always.

But because I ask questions and am the proverbial devil's advocate, I am often perceived as being much more rebellious in nature. Which is one of life's greatest ironies because I often spend a great deal of time thinking that I need to be stronger willed; that I shouldn't be so easily swayed in my opinions;  or that I should be more analytical about the information that comes my way.

But I ask questions. Always. And they're always getting me into trouble.

You'd think by now I'd have learned to shut up already, but I just can't help myself. After all, I just really want to know why people feel, even though they deny it, that questions indicate dissension and rebellion?


  1. Here is my professional answer...

    People react unpredictably to questions because it can cue an insecurity or bad memory, often something that they weren't even aware. The frustrating part, and it happens often, is when the askee doesn't know why it upsets them but they react as though the asker should have known better than to pose the question. Ultimately, it leaves both parties confused and feeling badly.

    It's not a reason to stop asking questions, but it may help to understand and depersonalize their reaction.

  2. "The wise man always asks questions"

    "The more you know"

    "Knowing is half the battle"

    Most adages agree that questioning and knowing go hand-in-hand thus both positive aspects. Your propensity for questioning itself should not be questioned. Maybe you should ask yourself:

    - do you allow the person to answer your question without being interrupted (with another question or otherwise)?

    - is the person prone to shutting down when asked difficult or mindful questions?

    - do you ask your questions in a way that may perhaps seem confrontational?

    - how does the original cartoon Megatron transform from big-ass robot to a hand-sized gun?

    - is the person comfortable with giving YOU in particular the answer?

    - is the person aware of your potential negative reaction to the answer?

    A variety of possibilities, my inquisitive dear.



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