The last Feeling Pieces newsletter was quite a while ago. The air was out of me, it was turbulent and I lacked not only the time but also the inspiration. But then I had an idea while I was listening to an interview podcast. I notices that I only paid attention to the answers, I hardly remember the questions asked. And I realized that I worry more about creating good answers than thinking about good questions myself.
I miss good questions. So, I will dedicate this newsletter to the art of formulating and asking questions. I will share with you interesting questions, helpful questions, stimulating and also irritating questions, those that trigger something and have the power of change.
With each issue of this newsletter I will cover a particular type of question, and give you some exercises to try.
Also, join my next CreativeMornings FieldTrips "Feel it, write it" on August 31 and on September 28. I will talk about the impact of writing and you're gonna experience that during some writing exercises. Register now!
Have fun reading!
Actually already during school time we are trained not to ask questions. The higher the class level, the more it is finally only about accepting the knowledge imparted by the teachers, memorizing it and reproducing it for exams. After all, the curriculum must be followed. We are trained to know answers to questions. Those who have the best answers get ahead. There is no time or space for questioning, reflecting, or even discussing. So instead of coming closer to an insight, it is prefabricated for me - the focus is entirely on the result, not on the process.
It is also still very common for those who ask too many questions to be perceived as annoying or even as ignorant and weak - as an admission of not knowing. In order not to risk being seen as "stupid", people accept unsatisfactory answers or - even worse - make assumptions and then present them as knowledge.
Today I know: only a really well formulated question makes a good answer possible and helps me to gain knowledge. By asking questions, I evolve. By asking questions, I build relationships. By asking questions, I intervene, I can change the course of situations.
I like questions, to formulate them and also to ask them - extraordinary, not expected questions. Questions that trigger something. Questions that don't allow for an automatic standard answer, but cause irritation, make my opposite or me fall silent for a moment, pause and ponder. Questions that provoke a thoughtful answer. Questions that bring to light stories I don't know yet. Questions that help to reflect. Questions that can bring out previously unrecognized resources in the other person.
Asking questions is my profession and my vocation at the same time. As a coach and therapist, the quality and success of my work depends on asking questions that spark a change. Questions that bring about transformations - on an individual and on a systemic level.
Very simply explained, a question is a statement that provokes an answer.
With questions I try to establish trust and invite people to be open. With questions I open up the world for myself, I gather knowledge in order to understand connections. And finally also to understand myself. To reflect my behavior, my thinking and to develop myself further.
Asking also means that I do not resign myself to an actual state of affairs, but rather question what I am used to, search for pattern breaks and also want to stimulate change. Questions are the beginning of change. Questions trigger uncertainties, routinized ways of thinking and behaving do not work and are then scrutinized and finally changed. By asking questions, I also signal to my conversation partner that I respect their autonomy and trust them to bring about the change themselves. Questions have more effect than advice.
I am bored by the questions I am often asked in everyday life: Are you well? How was your day? What are you doing? As unspecific and pale as the question is, so is the answer. I usually answer just half present with some platitudes, because the questioner gives me the impression that he is not interested in an honest answer at all, that he is not interested in me, but simply wants to avoid an uncomfortable silence. The worst thing for me is when conversations are opened with closed questions: *Are you okay? - Yes.* Conversation ended.
There are no right and no wrong questions, but there are bad and good ones. Good questions are primarily context-dependent, they show that my conversation partner is interested in me and is listening to me with interest, asking questions in order to understand facts and contexts. But also to guide situations, even as an intervention for critical moments. Good questions even have something childlike, they express amazement, wonder, curiosity. Especially irritating questions, i.e. those that I do not expect, that surprise me, demonstrate non-conformity and also creativity. They invite me to share my thoughts, to spin together, even to fantasize. And for me this is a sign of attention.
With questions, I want to get to know people more closely and, in particular, authentically. Because with questions, I establish relationships and can also deepen them even further. Thus, questions inspire both me and the other person, and they make us both think.
With a question, I establish the first verbal contact with other people: as a prelude to more, the possible beginning of a togetherness that only ends when we eventually run out of questions or even answers. And in the best case, we end up smarter, more involved, inspired, and in touch with each other - and stay that way.
Because questions inspire me so much, I write regularly in this newsletter about questions that I consider to be good. Questions that help me or questions that I have had good experiences with. Questions with which people surprise, inspire and irritate me. I dedicate this newsletter to my passion of asking questions - I will share my favorite questions with you, I go in search of new, exciting and challenging questions. Because that's what this world needs: Good, irritating, reflective questions that replace speculation with knowledge and insight. That allow for sincere, interested exploration and learning.
If you know or hear such questions, feel free to send them to me - I want to create a community of good questions. Here we share insights, bring them to life and develop them further. I also invite you to engage with yourselves; so please feel free to use the questions for your own reflection as well.
The question I begin with is the question that first intrigues me about other people, in order to get to know them better and to get a first impression of them. By asking this question, I quickly find out if there is a connection we can make, if we have common topics of conversation.
What question occupies your mind the most and directs your life?
I also ask this question because "Who are you and what do you do" just provides me with superficial information that mostly doesn't interest me.
The first time two people meet, the first time they see and perceive each other, is for me something very pure, innocent, vulnerable - especially then it depends on a good question to verbally establish and deepen the connection. I then find it particularly exciting and also connecting to get an undisguised insight into the thoughts and also concerns of this person. That is when the people I am getting to know can show themselves open and vulnerable - as a sign of reflection and openness. And also as a sign of curiosity in me, because usually with the answer I also get the counter-question. So far I have already been able to collect some touching, interesting answers - even as witness of the beginnings of wonderful friendships.
And now I invite you to think about this question, to formulate an answer or even new questions. Feel free to also share your answers with me or comment below, I look forward to reading what occupies your thoughts.
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I really want to be able to answer this with "Does this light me up inside? Yes or no?" and let that be my guide and what directs my life. Meaning if yes, proceed and if no, pivot.
I'm not there yet though. So the honest answer is "What's next?" Meaning, what's next on the to-do list? Or the next meeting? Or the next step, phone call, errand, admin... I am working towards it being less about what it is and more about how it makes me feel.
Then, maybe, I can answer this question more deeply at another time.
Thank you for a very thought-provoking question 🧡