Ask Questions

questionsIn the concluding paragraph of “Hillary Clinton was wrong: Donald Trump’s voters are not ‘irredeemable’” Sally Kohn used italics to emphasize an important point:

We shouldn’t tell them they’re deplorable. In fact, we shouldn’t tell them anything at all. We should listen to their anger and their concerns and try to understand.

An obvious way to increase understanding is to ask questions. As Dorothy Leeds addresses in The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work “questions can improve relationships, help determine what people really want, uncover opportunities, persuade others, and get more out of every business or personal encounter.”

According to MindTools, active listening involves five keys:

  1. Pay Attention
  2. Show That You’re Listening
  3. Provide Feedback
  4. Defer Judgment
  5. Respond Appropriately

If you aren’t sure what to ask, you can always, like a child, simply ask, “Why?”

I don’t know why most people seem to be poor listeners. Some reasons may be:

  • We’re so sure we’re right we feel we don’t need to learn anything new.
  • We label people and put them in a box rather than seeking to better understand their particular individuality.
  • We’re afraid of learning something new that will challenge us to change and we’re comfortable with the way we are

But I believe that if we become better listeners, it will help us to change the world.

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