Don’t ask questions you don’t really want to know the answer to – End of the Day for June 15, 2014

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Yesterday, I talked about conversations and their importance, but there can be a darker side to conversation, too. Sometimes, often without knowing it, you might be asking questions the other person would rather not here. Of course, there is no really way of knowing what these questions might be, so it can be a conversational minefield. I have a couple of these questions myself right now and that is what brings the topic to mind. These are questions I don’t really have the answer to, and will probably only discover those answers over time. This makes me uncomfortable internally and even more so when people start asking the questions out loud.

Question marks

These same questions can also lead to answers that might be uncomfortable for everyone involved. I might not want to say what I am truly thinking because they may not want to hear it. They might be happier in their ignorance on the topic, rather than face some possibly harsh words. You can’t ignore everything, of course, but sometimes things are better left unsaid. 

I developed the rule that is the title of this essay a long time ago — probably back in college. There are times when you are better off not knowing what is happening in someone else’s life. Conversely, there are times when you want, or even NEED, to ask those questions, though. You need to make a concious decision about those question instead of just letting them happen. Asking these questions might lead you down into the rabbit hole of someone else’s life just like Alice and you may find you really didn’t want to be there.

Try to understand those around you and the fact that there may be questions they can’t answer for themselves. I am sure each of us has a few of them. Secondly, don’t think by asking the question again, in a slightly different or confrontational way, will suddenly cause an answer to appear. I can assure you, if I don’t have any answer to something, it isn’t for lack of trying. I have probably been mulling the question around in my mind for weeks. Not knowing the answer can be extremely frustrating and pushing too hard to an answer I don’t have might just bring an angry response, simply because I don’t have a good response.

Watch your conversations over the next few weeks. Notice when you hit a question that someone would rather not be asked. Notice when you ask a question you didn’t really want to the know the answer to. The conversational clues are there, but subtle, and it can take a long time to recognize them and act upon that recognition. Be a good conversationalist and learn something from every conversation you have — both about the subject matter at hand and about conversation itself 


Previously on End of the Day:

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