Advice I give my kids isn’t always followed, but I keep trying. Hoping they keep listening. One advice I have gave them is to “ask questions”.
Today it feels like we are always living with ‘sound bytes’. Short little sentences that say lots but really don’t mean much. Maybe that’s what really motivates a lot of people today when you get in conversations with them. When you ask for information about something, short answers. Sometimes ( maybe often) incomplete. The answer is the answer for your question, it isn’t a lie… but it is missing things. Things they know and you don’t.
Now you can accept the answer, you can decide it is all you are going to get- or it is all you need to know. Many times that’s just fine. I mean if you call an ice cream store and ask them if they have vanilla ice cream, they can answer yes or no (or maybe perhaps). If you are good with that- now you can go to get vanilla.
What they might not tell you is that there is French vanilla, or vanilla with vanilla beans, or vanilla with chocolate sprinkles. Do you care? Perhaps not.
But when there are important decisions to make in your life, things that could improve it, or help avoid otherwise painful situations, or take you on a new direction you may otherwise have not experienced. Then you should be prepared to ask more questions, be more clear about the opportunity or the path ahead.
But ironically, in those situations many times I find myself and those around me asking just the simple questions, getting the sound bite answers, and moving on. Often things that could be meaningful are left unsaid. It’s not that the other people are withholding information, they just aren’t thinking you need to know- or want to know.
So that’s what I have learned in my old age: Follow up questions and answers with more questions. And it pays to LISTEN to the answer. It will provide you the fodder for the next question. Without you may be missing the opportunity, you may be missing a chance to better understand the choices, or better understand your fellow-man.
Simple as that. Yet with short 145 character sensibilities these days, with text message approaches to conversational English and people with so much input that short answers seem desirable- it feels like there is a lot things missing.
Not getting the whole answer feels like it happens a lot more often these days. It isn’t intentional. It is just “fill in the blank approach” to things. So that’s my advice to my family. Ask the questions you need and follow-up with more questions. Be sure you know the course. A lot of times once you do you realize there are people who want to provide more, and make your life better in the cause of it .
I like vanilla ice cream. I like to know all the flavors of vanilla, do they have toppings, can they put it in a cone, can they make it into a shake? Not sure. But always good to know the options. Of course there are more important things than that to know on our journey. Right?