When I became a parent for the first time almost 14 years ago, my first son skipped the terrible two’s and the never ending “why” stage. WHEW!!! I was spared BIG TIME! (Or so I thought…I am getting ALL of the teenager stages, I guess they call that “balance”). Speaking of balance, I now have a 3 year old and he has followed the stereotypical toddler stages roadmap to THE T! We are currently knee deep in the “WHY?” stage. I mean heavily in that stage. EVERY sentence out of his adorable little mouth either begins with a WHY or ends with a WHY. Some of his questions are easy to respond to, but others just leave me at a loss. “Momma, why does the truck have so many tires?” “Momma, why did the people leave that there?” “Why does fluffy (our dog) have toys?” “Why is it raining?” “Momma, why is there poop coming out of my butt?” “Momma, where are those cars going? Why?” By the end of that walk or drive with my all too inquisitive toddler I am out of words and responses and clinching to…”because Momma said so” or “I don’t know”.
Yesterday, as I tucked my lil guy in bed, read a book and answered about 7 more WHY questions…I started to wonder, when did we stop asking “WHY”? When did we ultimately stop asking questions? There is SO much coming at us every single day and in so many different forms…texts, phones, emails, meetings, kids, spouses, house duties, television, work, social life, AHHHHH!! It’s no wonder we have the tendency to go into auto-pilot mode, just get things done and keep on moving so we can get to the next “thing”. What would happen if we stopped and asked “why”? Why do we need that meeting? Why are we maintaining the status quo? Why don’t we consider this instead? Why didn’t this opportunity/relationship work out? Did we stop asking because well, we are adults, we are suppose to have the answers? Or did we stop asking because we are afraid of the response?
It is NO secret that communication is the foundation of ANY relationship. The importance of asking questions, questions that make an impact and unravel the doubts and often misdirection we create in our heads is KEY in building that foundation. As a training and development professional I have had the opportunity to facilitate many communication trainings and have observed even the most experienced executives struggle with asking questions. It’s a skill, a skill that goes hand in hand with listening…the Mom and Pop of COMMUNICATION. When we are confronted with a situation that requires us to dig deeper and ask high impact questions, very often we take the route of sticking to surface questions, safe questions, questions that we know we can answer should roles be reversed. WHY? There is so much more we can learn if we just stop and ask WHY?
So granted, while my toddler has his “why” questioning skill mastered, he still has ways to go with his listening skills (as does every member in my household, including myself). However, this little human has reminded me that I need to stop more often, turn off the auto-pilot mode and ask questions. Who knows, I may learn something new. So, the next time you are thrown a new project, task, or assignment and you are not clear…ASK QUESTIONS. What do you have to lose? Better yet, what can you gain? If only we asked more questions, then…