Have you ever been in a situation where you did not know what to say to someone after they have just dropped some information on you that you did not expect? Ever felt awkward in a situation and at a loss for words? Ever been so angry at someone that you wanted to yell at them but you knew you would say something that you would regret? These are all situations where a question can help you to return to your comfort zone or get you out of a sticky predicament.
Questions can allow some new information into the conversation. They help put you at ease by contributing to the conversation and also inviting someone else to say something as well. Here are some examples of how questions can save the day.
Example #1. You are in an argument with your spouse, kids or friend and they say something you do not like or disagree with. You feel yourself getting angry. You have a choice. You can start yelling or putting them down and acting like a superior; or you can say, “Can you help me to understand why you did that or what do you need me to do?” or “I am very upset right now but I don’t want to say something that I will regret, so is it OK if I take a walk for a few minutes and then we can sit down and discuss what just happened?”
Example #2. You are in a conversation with your boss and he/she begins to discuss details that you don’t understand. They ask for your opinion on the issue. You can just say, “Ummmmm???” or “That is an area of the business that I am not fully versed in, can you tell me more about that topic?”
Example #3. You are hosting a lunch or dinner for people and lack a conversation starter. While silence here and there is absolutely fine, you feel it is time to get conversation going. Ask someone a question about themselves or something that has recently happened in their life. Or you can ask a question about current events, if that is appropriate. Questions invite others to contribute new information to the flow of the conversation.
Example #4. At a function at someone’s home (yes, we are starting to do that again, post-COVID) and you do not know many people there. You can just stand in the corner or go to the restroom, or you can approach someone you do not know and ask, “How do you know the host?” It gets the ball rolling in an otherwise awkward situation.
These are just a few examples of how questions can enhance or calm down a life event. It is OK to pause in these situations as well, to decide if a question is appropriate or not. I would enjoy hearing other situations where you feel questions are appropriate.
Thank you for your trust in me. Be safe and be well.
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Maryellen Dabal, MA, LMFT
305 Miron Drive
Southlake, TX 76092