What is 2+2+4?
Do you like coffee or do you prefer tea?
When was the last time you told your Mom, "I love you"?
Simple, well articulated and easy to understand questions are incredibly powerful. They have a way of allowing someone to control another person's focus and train of thought.
By asking a simple question - like the ones above, I can silently command your brain to answer them. You may not want the answers, nor would you actively try but your mind wants to answer them. Just because they are framed to you as questions and they can easily be processed.
You can use questions to do a lot of great things.
Start a conversation with a stranger. Get to know someone better. Measure the depth of their understanding of a subject or simply gauge their creativity and general knowledge. You can also use questions to learn new things or get a better understanding of how things really work.
One of my favourite questions is "What is the happiest memory that you can recall from the last one year?"
I like asking this question to almost every person or groups of people that I meet more than once.
I've seen this question forcing my audience to think about all the good and happy times of their life in the last year. More often than not, it brings a smile to their faces. Just re-capturing how many good things have happened to them. Only to respond by saying, "There are so many, how do I choose the happiest/best memory?"
My motive is satisfied and my job is done.
I coerce them to think of the ones that shine more than others, but I really don't worry much about their answer. I simply wanted to make them feel nice about themselves and remind them that they too have a great life. Just like the others they see having fun on their social media feed. Regardless of the things, relationships, resources they may not have in life, a simple question can make them feel good.
Tweak it a little bit by asking about the worst memories in the last year.
I can cause pain and potentially bring them to tears.
Life throws a lot at us and we tend to hold on to the negative memories and allow the good ones to fade away. Questions help me change that.
Unfortunately questions can come with a lot of baggage. Asking seemingly strange questions too early or too much in a meeting with someone who is new to this construct can be intimidating, irritating and just "too heavy" for lite conversation. I speak with personal experience (my friends would agree).
There are countless people who have judged me simply for asking about their perception of reality or their understanding of the social contracts we sign by mere existence.
They are probably right (sometimes).
People don't like being asked about things they don't have the knowledge, vocabulary or creativity to answer (without preparation).
Knowing this has helped me learn that questions too need context and (environmental and conversational) setting. I must have a mellow and retreating side to my personality that does not challenge the world with questions.
However, being able to tune into my reservoir of questions and dipstick into the mind of my audience is one of my guilty pleasures. And if I'm spending time around people more evolved or experienced, well-read or just better story tellers that me, I will learn from their answers.
I love being around people I can ask questions to.
Especially people whose opinions I can learn from. Well rounded opinions, factual answers, fresh perspectives and knowledgeable dissertations are music to my ears and the strings of my heart.
All I'm saying is - I love questions.
You should too :)