Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Say What?

"What did I just say?" is a fairly common phrase in my classroom these days. I ask it often to see if the students are actually listening when I speak. It's actually kind of depressing how often they can't answer that question, but such is the life of a middle school teacher! My students aren't the only ones I ask this question of. Heck I ask any one any time I don't think they're paying attention, even my sweet husband. Side note: either he has me figured out or he is a really good pretender, but he is great about repeating things back to me:-) Communication is huge in any relationship and questions are huge in communication. Whether it's my relationship with the hubs, my kids, my co-workers, my family, friends, any one really, it is essential that we ask those important questions.

Today finds us in the thick of parent conference week, and we're getting a lot of questions. Some common ones: "how is he/she doing in class?", "are they turning their work in?", "what's the behavior like?", etc. These are all great questions to ask that enhance our communication regarding their students. They get us all on the same page so we can address any issues (if there are any) and move on with helping the students.

My question now is, why aren't we asking more questions? I mean honestly, how often do we assume something instead of taking the step to ask someone else a question? Far too often is the answer. I used to be afraid to ask a question for fear I would look stupid or that person would become angry with me, but in the end I just created more work for myself, and often them too, by not just getting straight to the point. In retrospect I could have saved myself a whole bunch of time re-completing assignments if I had just asked what the heck I was doing! I understand your boss/friend/coworker may be an unapproachable person, but don't you think they would appreciate you asking the question versus having you mess up in the long run?

Questions are an integral part of more than just the workplace; they can be huge assets in marriages and other relationships! How often are you frustrated with the way your spouse does something, and instead of asking why they do it that way you just jump down their throat about it? Or what about when a friend is upset about something and you can't seem to understand why that would make them upset. Ask them! Questions also do a great job of aiding every day conversations. When was the last time you asked how your friend's family is doing? Or, when did you last ask your coworker how their day was?

Asking the questions isn't the only part of the equation, though, you must also be willing and ready for the answer. You may find out your doing the project wrong. Can you humble yourself enough to then ask how to do it? You may discover your friend's family is struggling and they need guidance. Can you offer it? Your coworker may be swamped with work. Are you willing to offer help?

I challenge you to start asking more questions. Not just silly questions, but deeper questions. Questions that build relationships and fix issues. As for me, I'm an open book, so ask away. . .

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