Questions That Aren't Questions
My ten year old is the master of asking questions that aren’t questions. It drives me nuts,especially because every sentence starts with “Momma.” I have precious little patience with whiners, so this is her passive aggressive attempt to find the loophole in my no-complaining rule. Yes, I’m working on eliminating this habit. Take a look and feel free to roll your eyes in solidarity for all parents everywhere. Daughter “Momma, do you even TRY to be the best mom in the world?” Translation: "You are a big disappointment." Daughter, on our 30 morning walk asking me FIFTY times, “Momma, what time is it?” Translation: "I hate you for making me exercise." Daughter, “Momma, why did you put the Diet Coke on the stool that I use in the pantry? Translation: "Why aren’t you thinking about my needs every minute of every day?" Daughter “Momma, do you ever get tired of shopping?” said after we buy her stuff and while weare getting my stuff. Translation: "I hate shopping after we buy my stuff." This last one is my favorite. Daughter “Momma, why aren’t you answering my questions?” Me, “Because they aren’t questions; you are just complaining.” Daughter, “True.” My daughter isn’t the only one who asks questions that aren’t questions though, and others get the insults loud and clear. This passive-aggressive interrogative habit is born out of frustration, combined with sarcasm and the desire to sentence someone to a tiny word-wound. We can do better. With every question that’s not a question, the defensiveness escalates and in the blink of an eye, the damage is done. The insult hits, no matter how socially acceptable this type of faux-question is; and you may even be headed toward a full-blown conflict. Sigh. Defensiveness is such a bully, so smug, always inspiring the worst of communication choices. Can we all just pause for a second and repent of our own defensiveness? Do this: when you want to ask a question, don’t, unless you really want to know the answer. This will eliminate about half of all questions, maybe more. If there is any other motive besides actually getting information, this is a big red flag that something is bothering you, but you don't want to deal with it assertively. Conversely, I highly encourage you to ask sincere questions and it’s entirely likely that the conflict will unravel before it begins. When we are mad and behaviors don’t make sense, it's because we don’t have all the information. Go after the actual information. Below is a list of sincere questions to eliminate the inflammatory pseudo-questions. No Why are you being such a drama queen? Yes How has this affected you? No Will you calm down? FYI, this never calms anyone down. Yes What are you feeling? No You are joking, right? Yes Hey, will you tell me what happened so I can understand? No Why are you always trying to control everything? Yes Will you tell me about the conversation? No Will you just be quiet and listen? Yes How do you see things? No So what do you want me to do about it? Yes Best case scenario, what would you like to happen? No So, we just aren’t going to talk about it? Yes. Will you share your concerns? The absolute best thing to do is edit out the habit of asking pseudo-questions in your daily conversation. People will always fall back on the lowest level of training. During conflict, defensiveness is far less likely to give rise to the insulting quasi-question if you've eliminated the habit. Your ability to outsmart the faux question will create space for a productive conversation and a stronger relationship. When that happens, celebrate big my friend! *If you come across questions that aren’t questions, I would love to add them to my collection. Please email me at email@example.com. So, you are going to quit asking questions that aren’t questions, right?