Perhaps you’ve seen or even been a part of a moment like this. Friends get together who haven’t seen one another in a long time. One person is asking questions about the other’s life:
"OK—now tell me about your job."
"What do you really enjoy about what you do?"
"What do you find most stressful?"
"Now tell me about this place where you are living!"
"Wow–that is interesting. What do you enjoy most about that part of the state?"
Meanwhile, the other person never asks his friend any questions, other than a limp question such as "So, how’s it going?" So throughout the conversation, one person talks while the other listens. One person expresses a genuine interest in his friend while that friend shows no real interest in the other’s life.
Some people do not ask questions because they think, "I know all about that person already." Really? Perhaps you are thinking in terms of information. Yet, these questions are not just about exchanging information. Your questions reflect that you really care how the other feels and what he or she thinks. Your questions communicate that your relationship to that person, whether friend or family member, is important to you.
Today, you might observe your own behavior with a friend, family member, or even a fellow worker. Do you ask questions which reflect that you care about another’s thoughts or feelings? Even more important, do you ask questions that reflect a genuine interest in your relationship with that person?