Donna’s Delights And Insights

Donna Linn

By Donna Linn,
Healthy Planet Columnist

 Just One More Question, Ma’am

I’ve always been fascinated with the process of asking questions. As a child, I was known for gathering information. When other kids were playing with toys, I was “interviewing” our neighbors. One of my favorite questions was why; simple, yet effective. That’s when I realized when you ask, you get.

 As a broadcast interviewer, asking questions is the essence of my work. Every question must be carefully sculpted, as it determines the success of the show. “Just one more question, ma’am?” I ask. Sometimes that one question is the missing piece and the most important question of all.

We’re all interviewers. Asking questions is something we do every day, it’s how we navigate in the world. Much of our days is spent gathering information at home, at work, and in a variety of personal and professional situations. Asking questions is a uniquely powerful communication tool that connects us to others, helping us become better conversationalists. But asking questions doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Connecting with someone we’ve just met can be awkward, making conversation stilted and superficial. Engaging in small talk about the weather, or a comment about a personal effect is a great way to break the ice and build rapport. Always stick to neutral questions when you’re unsure of what to say.

Asking the right questions is the key to extracting coveted information. But if questions are so important, why are we reluctant to ask them? As children, we’re encouraged to be inquisitive, but as adults, we’re often embarrassed or uncomfortable asking a question fearing what our peers might think, especially in a work-related-environment. Other times, we’re not curious enough about the subject matter. We’ve also been taught the answers are more important than the questions. After interviewing myriad people from all walks of life, I’ve found the opposite to be true: questions are more important than the answers. The answers often change.

When questioning medical experts and other professionals, don’t be shy about making a list of open-ended questions of what you want to learn. French writer and philosopher Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” When you feel the urge to ask, follow your instincts. The question you ask could be the one that saves your life.

Donna Linn, M.A. is a communication specialist, educator and interviewer. Contact Donna at showmetalkradio@gmail.com