In any great conversation, questions are being sent back and forth as you go through various topics. While the answers to the questions are certainly a great way to gain insight on the other person, often the question itself will be revealing.
I recently heard Adam Grant sum it up like this:
“Don’t follow people because you agree with their answers, follow them because you respect the intellectual integrity that they bring to their questions”
There’s certainly a time and place for small talk, but the more quickly you can get to somewhat deeper talks, the better. Adam’s call for “intellectual integrity” is such an interesting phrase, and we see the lack of it quite often, particularly in divisive areas like politics.
For example, a few days ago someone on Reddit asked “People who voted for Biden. How do feel he is doing?“, and the results were fascinating. Generally speaking, the comments that came in were well-balanced and fair, and that was due to the quality of the question. If it was simply “Do you like Biden?” or “Do you wish Trump had won?”, those questions aren’t all that different on the surface, but would have led to far different answers.
A bit more narrow
I’ve found a great way to do this is to simply ask a slightly narrower question, like the example above. Up there, they framed it under “people who voted for Biden” to get that perspective. There were some Trump supporters that voiced in, but even those folks tried to see it through the other set of eyes to appreciate the reality of today.
If I get into a political conversation, the topic sometimes leans toward Critical Race Theory (CRT). However, instead of asking “Do you support CRT?“, I ask questions more like “What part of CRT is troubling you?“. While it’s a subject I’ve dug into a bit, I’m certainly no expert on it, so those kinds of questions can help fill in the gaps in my knowledge to better understand what it’s really about and what people like or dislike about it.
Asking great questions is easier said than done, but taking questions a step deeper can often lead to greater insights for both parties.
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