When is an open question a loaded question?

How we use our language shapes the openings for good communication.

However sometimes when we think we are asking a simple question we imbue it with all sorts of intimated meanings, intentionally or not.

For example, when looking descriptive information to help us understand what is going on, we often ask things like “why are you here” or “what is going on”. I bet a few of you may begin to feel a bit defensive when asked these questions.

There is all sorts assumptions in the question “what is going on” - firstly that something is going on, and that the person being directed the question is the one being singled out for explanation.

Similarly, the question ‘why’ in general is loaded with accusation and presumption and without introduction can lead to people starting a conversation on the defensive.

When we begin to ask questions, it is important we first make a fact based observation to provide context to the situation as seen from your point of view.

For instance:

“I thought you were in school today, why are you here?”

“I heard a big bang and loud talking that made me feel that something happened, what is going on?”

Both of these questions still have room for improvement, which will be discussed in later insights, but they are more likely to create an opening for dialogue as people have an understanding of where your question is coming from, rather than feeling like they are being lead into a self incriminating trap!

Try leading your questions with a short descriptive statement that helps the other to understand your context, and see if that defuses and opens the door for conversation.

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Trish MorotoComment