Every summer I am lucky enough to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Why do I love her so much? Because in a world where so many people are very busy knowing everything about everything, she is the first one to jump in with both feet and say, “Do you mind if I ask you some questions about that?”
Now if that doesn’t strike you as odd, well, lucky you. You obviously have marvelous friends. But I’m thinking that—on reflection—the majority of you will recognize the refreshing nature of my friend’s question. Because I’m guessing there are few places (outside a therapist’s office) that people really delve into whatever topic you’re nattering on about. Most of us—regardless of the subject matter—just nod our heads and say, “Yes, yes,” or “Of course,” or—most grievous sin of all and one of which I know I am guilty—“Well, when something like that happened to ME, here’s how I handled it,” etc.
And what’s even more delightful is that once my friend plunges in with a question or two, the conversation becomes so very much more interesting for everyone present. No matter what the topic, I promise you it is far more informative and entertaining once she follows up with questions 3, 4, and 5. (I also noted with pleasure—and pass along to you—her interim comment, “Now tell me if I’m asking too many questions…” Charming, yes? I have yet to hear anyone complain.)
So as you make the rounds of networking lunches, family barbecues, and those cocktail parties where work and off-duty time have blended together in such a way that the dress code question makes your head explode (more on that next week…) I encourage you to follow my friends’ example and—in the spirit of a day at the beach—dive in with questions.
Frances Cole Jones