I already talked about one very important question “what do you mean by that?” This question is powerful because it can clear up misunderstandings fast, decreasing conflict.
Many don’t know what they mean when they make claims, they just repeat the talking points. This means that this question, along with others, are powerful but also can be dangerous. One looks like a fool when one doesn’t even know what one means, this can cause great hurt. Consider a knife, it can do great good, such as a surgeon’s scalpel. Much damage also can be accomplished with this tool, such as murder. With a good question comes responsibility.
That responsibility is respect. We need to ask questions, but they need to be respectfully. If not asked respectfully, another can be made to look stupid, which is not what we want to accomplish. We need mercy. Respect is hard to give some times when outlandish reasonless assertions are made. Even so, respect is needed.
The next two questions can be even more effective, but also just as dangerous. In other words, mercy is needed along with these questions.
The second main question
This next question should be used when another makes a claim. It’s not my job to prove a radical assertion wrong, the one who makes the claim rightfully needs to supply the evidence for the truth of the claim. When this happens, I ask something like this “How did you come to that conclusion?” A gentler way to say this is “Why do you feel that way?” Again it clarifies the reasons for a person’s ideas. Please watch out, again most can’t provide evidence, they just make empty claims. You can make one look like a fool unintentionally.
The last big question
The last question is used to exploit a flaw when you are in communication. This question is great when reasons don’t support the claims or the claim is weak. The question is “Can you clear this up for me?” Now of all the questions, this is the most assertive and direct, so it needs to be used with mercy and grace. When one’s reasoning is fallacious, it can be quite embarrassing.
As a recap: use mercy and respect with the following types of questions 1)”What do you mean by that?” 2) “How did you come to that conclusion?” 3) “Can you clear this up for me?” Put these type of questions into your communication tool box. These will help you learn, stay in control and gently help the others think about what they are saying.