What’s a little questioning between friends?

This post continues an idea from yesterday’s post.

When I was a kid I was always bad at Truth or Dare. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to share things about myself and it wasn’t because I was afraid of doing silly/stupid/dangerous/embarrassing things. No, I was bad at Truth or Dare because I never wanted to ask anybody any questions or ask them to do any dares. It took me a long time to figure out why I was afraid of this aspect. The answer jumped out at me one year in high school.

I was on the phone with one of my lady friends when she paused for a moment and said,

“have you ever done [insert thing I’ve never done here*]?”

I, being an ignorant 15 year old, immediately answered “no!” I also said “I think that’s illegal in this state, and I hear the United Nations Human Rights Council† is considering making that a crime against humanity.”

Her response was a quiet,

“oh.”

See, what I didn’t get back then was why she was asking the question. She was asking the question because she was thinking about it. She was thinking about it because it was important to her. It was important to her because her boyfriend had just convinced her to do that.

Had I been a smarter 17 year old, I would have gotten that and been able to go on with the conversation, addressing her fears rather than having her address them later with a revolver.‡ This is not to mention that I would have figured out more about her from her question than was possible from my answer.

In this way, I realize that questions are more revealing than answers. Because with questions, as with labels, you reveal what you think is important. It’s the reason I replaced all of my small talk with existential questions… which, coincidentally, is the reason I do very little small talk.

For more on this topic, read the Little Prince.

* No joke is intended by this punch line.
† I know that back then it was called the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, but I didn’t want to lose the modern day audience reading this that would have been taken out of the story by the seeming anachronism
‡ I’m kidding. It’s just a metaphor. She actually used a Walther P99 semiautomatic pistol.

About Pixel

Pixel Q. Styx refuses to talk about himself. If thou wishest, thou may infer from his blog what thou wishest.
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3 Responses to What’s a little questioning between friends?

  1. Listening seems on its way to becoming a lost art.

  2. Avery says:

    Very true. The thing is, you recognized this aspect of compassionate listening at a young age. Some people never learn it.

  3. Pixel says:

    I should probably add that I realized what she meant a few days later and we had a nice talk about it (most of the story is a hyperbole, but the main idea remains the same). As a result, now I always pay attention to people’s questions.

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