By Kermit Rowe
I have a question for you: What is it about a question that leads us to answers?
I am being a bit facetious, but I am also trying to make a point.
It seems our go-to tendency is to go into a conflict trying to get out of it at any cost. For many, the surface level of conflict is so uncomfortable that the modus operandi is to go no deeper into the issue than is absolutely necessary to achieve some semblance of temporary peace. Is there a better way?
The problem with temporary peace is it is … temporary.
Perhaps the symptoms are relieved for the moment, but the problem is a moment is fleeting. And the problem is still there.
The big question is: How do you dig out the problem from under this mountain of natural resistance? The answer is … with the extra question.
It is a method that Jesus himself used with regularity as he, fully God and fully man, walked about this earth teaching us eternal truth in this temporary home we call earth. Jesus chose to teach with questions because in his perfect, indisputable judgement, questions were often the best way to teach.
Couple conflicts often start with an accusatory question, then somehow end with not enough of them to get to the core of the problem. The result is barely a result: They settle for non-resolution in the name of a cheap version of de-escalation that presents a fake version of peace. There is no solution, and no resolution to get solution.
Thus, the unresolved issue lurks under the surface of an uncomfortable calm, until the next storm brings it back out – usually in an uglier version. The storm returns in a more destructive form.
We all know the 3-year-old who is trying to figure out the world they’ve been born into. Their favorite question is, “Why?”.
If we could just model this, we have a realistic chance to find the gold nugget under the aforementioned mountain of natural resistance.
For example, first question: How are you feeling? Then whatever the answer, don’t settle for it.
Follow it up with, “Why … are you feeling this way?” You have shown you care enough to go deeper, you value how they feel, and you clarify what the situation is before moving forward into the resolution phase. Doubt is removed, door is opened.
Once in the resolution phase, more questions:
- Why is this a problem?
- Why is this suggested solution the best solution?
- Why is it not the best solution?
How many extra questions are needed? As many as it takes to identify the true problem, discover what each other feels about it, and arrive at a true solution that both are happy with and can commit to.
It may take more work, but isn’t your mate worth it?
There ya go, now that’s the big question. The answer is powerful … and transforming.
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Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.