My wife and I parent 5 young boys and so I can tell you from my own painstaking experience that questions can be one of the most frustrating parts of our day.
The problem is that each of our boys on their own don’t feel that they are assalting us with non stop verbiage however when you combine their efforts throughout the length of an entire day that’s when it becomes a problem for us.
Wouldn’t it be easier if our boys just blindly did what we told them? Wouldn’t our families goals be advanced with ease, our boys would avoid many dangers and every member of our family would win? While this seems appealing in theory it really wouldn’t be in reality. I have witnessed many teenagers who resent their overcontrolling parents and many people in organisations who externally obey the rules but miss many learning opportunities because they dont feel safe enough to ask questions.
People learn best when they can make their own mistakes in a safe environment and then seek out wisdom from a trusted source so that the same mistake isn’t repeated.
The same dynamic can be found in any organisation/group/environment that we are called to lead or simply participate in.
See questions as painful as they can be serve to teach lessons that cant be learnt through instruction only. In the Bible we see that many people felt comfortable enough to ask Jesus questions and often times he would answer their questions with another question. (He was the Master Thought Provoker)
Jesus understood that questions, even when they are filled with concern, doubt or are against ‘the organisations values’ serve to facilitate deeper growth and greater buy in.
It’s possible to not even have the question satisfactorily answered and still win people’s hearts as you allow them to grow by at least being able to ask questions in the first place. If that’s how we learnt when we were kids, is it possible that we still learn this way today and that when we create cultures where people can’t ask questions we are actually denying them many growth opportunities and even worse forcing them to appear to be a willing participant when in reality they are just going through the motions? Food for thought.
Some thoughts on how to create such a culture in your, family, work, church or organisation.
Openly share some of the questions you’ve had especially if it lead you to deeper enguagement, contentment or knowledge. Model what it looks like to ask questions and by doing so your speaking to your culture in saying that questions are ok.
Consider what environments you feel most comfortable to freely ask questions, without being made to feel like you are being an inconvenience. Remember that people asking questions is a positive thing, it means that they truely want to either overcome an obstacle or desire to have a fuller understanding of something.
People who want change and desire to succeeded in their given roles will have heaps of questions. If they don’t have questions then it can be a reflection that they are playing it safe or don’t desire to grow.
People learn best when they have their questions heard and answered in meaningful ways. I have had many questions over the years and when someone has taken the time to sit and listen it has spoken of that persons genuine love and concern for me. This has usually led to me going the extra mile for that friend, family member or boss.
Understand that although allowing and even encouraging a culture where questions are the norm, will require intentionality, focus and often times patience, you are allowing people to speak from their heart. Questions are a simple way to get to the heart of the matter, which allows people to serve from their heart and lead from their heart also. This way people will bring more of their true self into your culture and participate in authentic and genuine ways for the long term. The next time they have a question they will run to you and the positive cycle can continue.
What thoughts / ideas can you add for how to encourage questions for your context?