Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Get Gentle by Asking Questions

Question mark by Marco Bellucci, cc license
I keep coming across this concept of being curious as an alternative to being judgmental. It keeps popping up in what I’m reading, conversations with friends, and podcasts. It’s almost as if the universe is trying to send me a message. So, okay universe, you have my attention.

It really is a great idea, to be curious about our own quirks or the behavior and motives of others, rather than judging and reacting. I’ve been developing my toolbox of strategies to be more gentle in trying situations, and I thought curiosity would be a wonderful tool to add. I thought that at the next opportunity, I would simply remind myself to be curious and notice what was happening, rather than judge and react. I didn’t really think that one through.

At the first opportunity, I did remind myself to be curious, but what I noticed is that I didn’t feel curious at all. I felt irritated and I needed to get my point across and explain how mine was the correct perspective. Clearly, I needed more than a mindset to use this tool. I needed some action items.

A random (or was it, universe?) conversation reminded me of a podcast I heard a while ago. Briefly, Keith Woods (the vice president of diversity in news and operations at NPR) addressed the issue of what to say when someone says something offensive or insulting. He suggested one way to speak up to bring about awareness, rather than starting an argument, is by asking a question. Ah! Asking questions!

Of course! When we are curious about something, we set about researching it and asking questions. Again, I waited for the occasion to be gentle by being curious and asking questions.

The opportunity arrived early in the morning (arguably my worst time of day) and as I felt my irritation and indignation rise, I reminded myself to be curious and, this time, to ask questions. As I did, I was somewhat distracted from my own anger and able to get a more realistic, balanced view of the situation. Once my questioning was at it’s end, my blood pressure had gone down a few notches and I was able to honestly and gently express my own feelings and perspective. It was a beautiful thing - and it put the day back on track.

As it’s rather timely, I will also mention that questioning has become my go-to tactic when I find myself in the middle of a political discussion these days. And I should note that I mean questioning to get a deeper understanding of someone else’s perspective - not interrogating and looking for holes in someone’s reasoning to show them where they’re wrong. Post-election, I think it’s our task to reach out to each other and seek to understand so that we can heal the rifts caused by an aggressive, intense campaign season and move forward. That, at least, will be my goal at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Here’s to some thoughtful questioning in your near future!

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my Good In, Good Out E-Newsletter: A steady diet of good stuff to fuel your soul, mind, and body! 

You can also sign up HERE if you are not able to see the form, below. 

Subscribe to the Good In, Good Out newsletter:

* indicates required

No comments:

Post a Comment