In two recent writings I have suggested questions to use in initiating conversations with others. These are constructive ways to begin and continue a dialog with someone. The third question explores means to help others open up to you, while simultaneously showing them respect.

Question 3: “Can I share my thoughts with you?”

In Question #3 we saying, “With your permission, may I share my thoughts with you (family member, friend, colleague or boss)?”

Question #3 Invites an Ongoing “Dialogue,” 

After the other person has shared thoughts and opinions, now it’s your turn to share yours. After sharing your own opinions, you can now review the points of agreement together, and contrast perspectives and opinions. But Question #3 does not give you the last word on the matter.

Question #2 and Question #3 Can Be Cyclical

What happens next is that you have the privilege and blessing to repeat and re-loop the questions together. By first asking and hearing the other person’s understanding and perspective, you can continue to asking the same question of the other until clarity occurs.

These Questions Are Like Playing Tennis

In many ways, conversations are like a game of tennis or ping-pong.  In these games, we hit the ball into the other’s court and they hit it back to us.  The back and forth nature of the game is its fun. Yes, sometimes someone “aces” on the first shot or “spikes” the ball whereby the other cannot return it; but that is part of the game. However, where is the fun if all one party wins every time they touch the ball? They may feel good, but where is the sport and fun in it for the other? Without sounding like a sore loser, I may or may not want to play with such an overachiever.

The same is true in conversation. We do not have to “win” every point! We gain and grow if our dialogue goes back and forth long enough to create clarity, understanding, and a measure of unity. Or put another way, there must need to be a sense of win-win in to make the time meaningful for all involved.

Try using these questions

I hope this series was helpful. Try one or all in your own life. Get back to me with how these may have helped you. And, if you need personal encouragement and “coaching” in using these questions in your life, please contact me.

Call or email me, Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789) for help with your relationships and relationship problems. I am a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis and other Western Suburbs.