Could You Only Ask Questions During an Outing or Gathering?

I love a good question, whether someone is asking me or if I’ve stumbled upon something interesting to learn about another person.

I’ve noticed that when I feel like I know someone well, fewer questions tend to get asked. People just talk. This is often fine, but it also sometimes means that it’s easier to stop learning new things about the people you’re the closest to or see the most often (compared to someone you barely know anything about).

So entirely on a whim, a few weeks ago before having dinner with some friends, I privately challenged myself to only ask questions. I wasn’t doing this as a game or an act; rather, I just wanted to try to focus on curiosity. I also didn’t entirely follow through, as I wasn’t the only person who asked questions and I didn’t want to come across as an overbearing interviewer–basically, I didn’t want anyone to notice that I was trying something.

That said, I found it to be an incredibly worthwhile exercise. I was surprised by how often my instinct was to talk about myself, whether as part of a discussion or to fill a gap in conversation. After I fought that instinct a few times and focused on genuine curiosity instead, it rapidly became easier to focus on other people instead of myself.

I also quickly saw the impact it had on the group (there were around 5 of us). Some of my questions were person-specific, but most applied to at least a few people, sometimes everyone. I could see the impact the questions were having on people’s posture, tone, and participation. There was more excitement, more smiling. And I really wasn’t doing anything special: It’s just that whenever I had the chance to talk, I asked a question.

In fact, perhaps the biggest change I noticed was that as the conversation continued–and it was a great conversation, much more lively than usual–the less my questions were needed. It became more of an organic discussion, the type you have with good friends, but not about the same old topics we’ve covered dozens of times. And it isn’t like it was any deeper or more serious. It was just a good, fun chat.

I’ve tried versions of this a few times since (entering an occasion with an intentional focus on asking questions instead of talking about myself), and every time I’ve had a really positive experience. I’d love to hear if you’ve ever tried something like this or if you want to give it a try in the future. I’m curious about how it makes you feel and the impact it has on the overall discussion.

2 thoughts on “Could You Only Ask Questions During an Outing or Gathering?”

  1. I usually ask questions. I don’t like talking about myself to fill silence gaps. I like getting different perspectives. I think the weirdest answer was when someone told me to form my own opinion – I guess he didn’t like being put on the spot. But it is harder when friends are introverted because they don’t have elaborate answers or don’t fire back questions. I do have a friend who usually fires questions more than me so I know to get ready to pull down boundaries if I’m hanging with her 🙂 but maybe that’s why we’re still friends.

    Reply
    • I agree that is a weird answer (I understand that some people prefer to deflect questions, but it seems like an aggressive way to deflect).

      Like you, I usually ask questions too–that’s generally more of my instinct. That’s why it was even more illuminating to see how many more opportunities for questions there were by attempting this exercise. 🙂

      Reply

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