Let’s return to my story of the fire-walking Indian villagers and the high school teenager. The incident really troubled me for a couple of days after. I kept thinking that surely my reaction hadn’t been right. I wasn’t feeling exactly peaceful with myself about it. What would have been a constructive reaction to his “they are preparing for Hell” comment?
The game we played yesterday gives a great hint: try to discover information that is valuable to you or your interlocutor, and have fun learning from them, about them. In other words, become a journalist and start asking questions! If I had managed to regain my composure at that very moment, I believe a good response would have been, “What makes you say that? What experience(s) in your life have led you to that conclusion?”
Asking questions is a great way to keep the judge voice away, especially if accompanied by an honest desire to learn rather than to prove a pre-existing personal perspective.
Make it your active goal today to ask questions as often as you can. Imagine you are a curious child; you don’t know much about anything but are really thirsty to learn more from each person you meet. Today, let everyone you talk to be your teacher!
– What can you learn from or about them?
– What makes each person you meet unique?
– What has worked about the way you asked questions, and what has not?
– What sort of questions have been most efficient?
– Were you aware of your own tendencies to judge, generalize, or assume, and how did you deal with them?
“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”
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