Don't Ask If You Don't Want To KnowDon't Ask If You Don't Want To Know

Don't Ask if You Don't Want to Know

by Connie H. Deutsch

It never ceases to amaze me how people can ask a question without really wanting to know the answer.

In the past week, I've run across three people who had three different types of questions, yet none of them so personal that the person who asked them might not want to hear the answers.

One of them knew the answer to her own question so she was either too lazy to take it to the next level or she had lost interest in the answer the instant after she asked it. If she had lost interest, she could have just retracted her question. She didn't do that. Instead, she changed the subject before I got the first word out of my mouth.

The other two people rambled on about myriad subjects immediately after they asked their question as if they weren't expecting an answer.

I guess the reason I find this type of behavior so strange is that I usually ask a question if I'm interested in the subject and if I want to hear that person's opinon, or if I just want information. In that case, I'm expecting an answer and I stick around waiting for it. What I don't do, is start talking about something totally unrelated to my question. In fact, after I ask someone their opinion and I'm sure they understand what I'm asking, I don't say another word until they finish speaking.

On the other hand, when someone wants my opinion, I have to ask questions until I understand what they're asking.

One of my strangest memories was of a client who didn't want to be interrupted, no matter what. I told her that there were a lot of details in her story that I didn't understand and I couldn't give her the information she wanted until I understood them. She told me to save my questions until she finished talking.

I didn't interrupt. I waited until she finished speaking and then I asked her to repeat the entire story, letting me ask questions as she went through it again. As difficult as this was to believe, she was happy to do that. And that's how we spent the next few years, with her talking and me listening, and then her telling me the same thing again, word for word, but this time, allowing me to ask for clarification of whatever I didn't understand or whatever didn't make sense in the first telling.

For the most part, she was more interested in asking questions without really wanting answers. She liked having an audience listening to her stories but she wasn't really interested in their opinions even though she asked for them.

And still I wonder . . . if you don't want to know the answer, why ask the question?

by Connie H. Deutsch
References and Bibliography
Connie’s books: Whispers of the Soul, A Slice of Life, Whispers of the Soul for the Rest of Your Life, View from the Sidelines, Reaching for the Brass Ring of Life, Here and There, The Counseling Effect...and more. Visit website: to Read more Connie H Deutsh Articles
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