Relationships thrive on sincere questions, but whither in the face of interrogating questions. What is the difference?
Interrogating questions do no seek to clarify, they accuse. They are frequently statements disguised as questions.Like a policeman confronting a criminal under the blazing lights, they are designed to extract an confession of misbehavior. In response the accused will respond defensively.
Sincere questions, however, seek to understand the other person’s perspective so that more responsible, sensitive behavior can develop in the future. The questioner adopts a curious interest in what caused the person to respond as they did. Instead of attacking, sincere questions are open-ended, and invite the person to elaborate on their response. Therefore, the intonation may be crucial in determining if the question is interrogating or curious. Here are some tips for asking effective questions. They may be:
- Action questions that focus on what did or didn’t happen: I wonder what held you up?
- Interpretations questions that focus on terminology, quantity or assumptions
- What do you mean when you say I am uncooperative?
- When you say I am always late, do you mean that I have never arrived on time?
- Are you saying that I need to go to college to get a good job?
- Interference questions that seek to clarify underlying beliefs, attitudes, and intent. They expose hidden agendas
- Do you believe I intended to hurt you?
- You say that you are not angry, but your voice is rising and you seem tense. What are you really feeling?
- Emotion Questions that clarify underlying feelings, and the intensity and duration of those feelings
- Are you scared that we won’t have enough money to pay the bills?
- How upset are you that I don’t want to go to your parents for Thanksgiving?
- How long have you felt that way?