Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The right questions...and the answer key

I have been thinking a lot lately of important questions. Part of this is due to me getting to know new people and wanting to get the information that is important at the beginning. Another part of this is realizing that you will never know someone unless you ask the right questions. The third part to this is that it is almost my birthday and that means that questions are coming on my annual birthday quiz! So, today, I decided to write about questions and answers. My life is full of questions in a lot of ways. I have a lot of questions for God, my family, my friends, and new love interests. I have questions coming at me from all angles from these people because I tend to be the advice girl. I read thousands of questions a day as I prepare for my GRE. Questions are just invading my life at every turn and I thought it deserved its own post. Another reason I chose questions as a topic today is that tomorrow I get on a plane early in the morning and head to see my friend Josh in Colorado! Now, you may be asking..what does that have to do with questions...EVERYTHING!

Josh, if you know him, can look complex. He seems like he's hard to figure out or perhaps even doesn't really care about much. I am here to tell you ..it's all about questions. He is one of those people that you have to pull things out of. Actually now that I think about it..all of my guy friends are. This isn't case specific to Josh but I notice that in my life I am always the person who asks just the right question to be allowed into someones holy of holies..so to speak. I should note that it probably has something to do with my calling to psychology. I should also take this time to note that I am human and I have messed up at times when being allowed into someones secrets and I fall occasionally..it's one of the perks of humanity I guess. Back to questions...

So, questions are such an intricate part of any friendship. You have to know how to really listen and ask the right questions at the right moment. I am not the best listener and I am not the best friend. I simply try to take the time to ask questions. I ask things that matter in life even if they don't seem to matter. An example of a great conversation of questions goes like this.. (abbreviated for blog obviously)

Erica: Hey Jay, what's going on?

Jay: Not much Erica, kinda tired lately

Erica: Oh yeah, what's making you so tired?

Jay: I don't know...I mean I work a lot

Erica: Really, how much are you working lately?

Jay: Probably around 15 hour days and it seems like I never stop.

Erica: Well maybe you need a day off?

Jay: I can't really take a day off...I need the money

Erica: Oh, well you know what,...let me take you out to lunch and we can talk some more about life.

At this point, I have just stepped in and asked some basic questions that led me to realize that Jay was struggling with money. This opens up my ability to pray for Jay, help him out with some ways to relax, and perhaps even help him financially (first by providing him some lunch.) This may seem simple and obvious but I have been in situations lately where someone really did stop asking questions and just simply loved my part in their life and never got to know ME! Now, because of that, the friendship really isn't strong and it's almost like I am not someone in it..but rather a therapist. I also have friendships where I feel like I am always talking and never listening and I am trying to stop doing that. I apologize if I have ever made you feel like I don't want to know you.

My point today is that we will never truly know anyone without the right questions. That really requires listening with our whole selves. I learned something in my training in psychology that has served me well..when I use it. I admit that I don't always use it and when I don't...I end up hurting people with my bad listening skills. We are not good listeners as a society simply because we are so centered on ourselves and how we feel that we forget that we have an audience to think about and they need to talk too. Ok, so today I am going to try to help you to understand how important questions and answers are...and how to properly listen. Now, as they say..those who can't...teach! Today, I am telling you..I am not perfect at this but very aware of my weakness!

I am going to set up a mock conversation and two seperate ways to handle it. Again, the characters are myself and Jay. (Jay is a ficitious person and I thought I would use Jay because all of my guy friend's names start with J)

Ok, here is the normal conversation that happens between two friends...

Erica: Hey Jay, it's good to see you buddy. How are you?

Jay: Good to see you too Erica, I am good ...how are you?

Erica: I am alright. I am staying busy. I have to work all the stinkin time. Did I tell you what happened the other day? (Erica proceeds to tell an hour long story) *I know..I know..I am Erica for a reason*

Jay: Sits and thinks about dinner and other such things while realizing that Erica NEVER listens to him speak. It's a good thing she's hot! :) (cracking up)

Ok, here is a more ideal way for ERICA to handle herself (Yes, I represent myself here)

Erica: Hey Jay, it's good to see you buddy. How are you?

Jay: Good to see you too Erica, I am good...how are you?

Erica: Can't complain. How's work going?

Jay: Oh it's pretty good, busy, but good. And you?

Erica: Pretty busy as well. Things are always a little stressful but what do you do?

Jay: Yeah, want to get some dinner and just catch up?

Erica: Sure.

Erica and Jay continue to talk equally answering proper questions where they come up and never monopolizing the conversation. They are truly good friends to each other.

Ok, well now that I have not only helped you to see good questions and answers but also made myself feel like a horrible friend...I am done! To my most special boy..I am so sorry..I am such a jerk! Jay that is! :) He knows who he is! I love you all today and I am going to be working on my listening skills. I can't know you without them and that's not your fault. Have a great day ya'll and God bless you!


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