Who to believe?
Sometimes I’ve totally failed to ask the right question. I’ve been guilty of believing a child or an adult when I heard their story without listening to the other side. Sometimes it was because I trusted the adult; other times it was because the story was so convincing that I couldn’t imagine it was false.
With my kids, I learned to check out their “source” of information. I verified what actually happened with teachers or other siblings. That’s because I knew the right question to ask. Yet I often failed to follow this practice when I heard stories from adults. I naturally assumed they were telling the truth. I also assumed they were not embellishing the actual story. I failed to reckon with the fact that when a person is upset, it is quite natural for him to embellish what he tells to make certain the listener is completely won over to his side.
Sometimes – later – I learned how wrong I was. I also learned a few other things: it’s a good practice to ask questions instead of assuming or accusing. There’s an art in asking the right question. Yep – and that’s a whole lot easier said than done.
Instructions on the right question
Funny thing is, there are instructions about this very thing but I didn’t bother to read them. You know what they say? When all else fails, read the directions. Or, in other words, learn to listen and how to ask the right question.
I’ve been trying to do that more consistently. Here’s some advice and instructions from Proverbs. When I practice and follow this, it makes all the difference in the world.
13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
Instead of asking, “Why did you do _____________?” I’ve learned to say, “Tell me about ________.” OR “How are things going with ____?”
When a person doesn’t feel accused before they answer, they will be more ready to tell the truth and share from their heart.When a person doesn't feel accused before they answer, they will be more ready to tell the truth and share from their heart. Click To Tweet
When others trust us to care about them and not be ready to lodge daggers, they will be more willing to share their struggles and pain. I’m still learning to ask questions first instead of accusing the one whose story I have not heard. I’m learning to make a point of listening to both sides of a hurt before assuming I know the story. I’m learning to ask the right question instead of pointing a finger first.
It’s a lesson for all of us – and takes a lot of practice and persistence to perfect. I’m still learning. Will you join me?