Good afternoon people of the interweb.
Today, I have a question for you.
How do you feel about asking questions?
Are you first with your hand metaphorically up in life’s classroom, waggling for acknowledgement, or are you slumped in your seat, not sure you’re understanding what’s going on, but determined not to ask a “dumb” question?
Have you thought about what’s behind your questioning style? That’s my invitation to you today.
When I said I had a question for you (singular), I actually meant I have many, many questions.
I like questions. They help me clarify my thinking and learn things.
Here’s a bunch of questions, about questions, for your consideration:
Do you feel hesitant or confident about needing to ask a question?
Do your questions matter?
Does it make you feel vulnerable to ask questions? (If you’re a femal reader, do you think men with questions feel any vulnerability?)
If you do feel hesitant about asking questions, can you pin that down to anything specific?
Did some fool (#sorrynotsorry) along the way in life hush you and tell you your questions don’t matter? Or that they’re annoying or unnecessary?
Are you sick of my questions yet?
I’m a big believer in the power of questions, and of questioning things. “Just because” has never satisfied me as an answer. Ever. Never will.
Something I’ve noticed (again) lately is how apologetic women sometimes seem around asking questions.
“Sorry, I know it’s a dumb question but….”
“Sorry to ask but…”
“I know I should know this already, but…”
“Can I just ask, sorry, I was just wondering…”
That makes me ponder this question: have you ever heard a man begin a question with an apology, or a sense of feeling like he’s intruding or taking up someone else’s space?
Not likely, right?
Hmmmm, let’s just let that marinate for a minute.
Men with questions. Women with questions.
Both totally legit, right?
While I was checking my Facebook feed today, I saw that several people had posted photos of an American newspaper’s front page which had a banner headline about Hillary Clinton making history as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. Whatever your political views are, that’s big news.
The accompanying front page photo was of her husband, Bill Clinton.
I have questions about that.
Questions are crucial to my sense of self. I only know myself as well as I do because of the questions I’ve asked, and had to answer.
Questioning isn’t always easy, I have been shooshed many, many, many times in my life.
The messages I received along the way, implicitly and explicitly, told me that grown-ups’ voices were more important, that men’s voices were more important, that my questions were annoying and somehow were evidence of a character flaw. Good girls don’t interrupt or ask questions.
I even fell into the trap of shooshing myself. How insidious is that?
Gradually, very gradually, I decided to allow myself to question. The pep talks I had to give myself around those questions were often tearful. What a terrible and tragic thing that is, to even deny yourself the right to ask a silent, internal question.
Questions can be straightforward and simple, or they can be potentially seismic in their impact. Questions can stump you, shake you and free you. Questions don’t always have readily available answers. Sometimes they do.
A few paragraphs ago, I said that questions are crucial to my sense of self. I’d go so far as to say that questions are crucial to yours too, whether you’re a hand waggler or a seat slumper.
My parting question for your consideration today is this, would you consider questioning your approach to questions?
Oh, and just one more thing before I sign off, my last question for now, I promise.
Do you believe that your voice, and your questions matter?
It does. They do.