In this episode, my friend, Daniel Stillman, interviews me for his podcast, The Conversation Factory. We discuss how to ask better questions, the value of loving, non- judgmental questions, and my story.
I hope you enjoy today’s podcast as Daniel flips the script and interviews me on the art of asking questions.
I have spent most of the month of January refreshing my study of the Option Process Dialogue, a form of socratic questioning which I have found invaluable in my practice, personal life, and physical training. If you haven’t heard me discuss questions before then by way of introduction, I suggest reading my post Ask More Loving Questions.
In a world full of people willing to give advice, there is a scarcity of good questions asked without a directive intent. Thus the Option Process Dialogue, an incredible way of being present with another person and asking them questions. I completed a recent course alongside these five fabulous certified Option Process Mentors, each of whom have put in their 10,000 hours refining their practice and understanding of this process.
I have read Socrates’ thoughts on the purpose of questions and seen many fine examples of well-honed questions used to extract information, assist someone in hard times, or convince of a particular viewpoint. (For an amusing recent example of two world-class questioners take a look at this interview of Neal Strauss by Tim Ferriss.) While I don’t generally conduct playfully combative interviews, I recently practiced asking questions on a live stage…
Stretching for a Couples Dialogue
One scene from these last weeks stands out. I am in front of a room full of people, facing two friends – a couple. I am the “mentor,” responsible for asking these two questions and aiming for a non-directive, following attitude. Years ago, when I began my study of this dialogue process, it was a struggle to just be present with one person for 5 minutes at a time. Last January I acquired the requisite skills to maintain this presence for 50 or more minutes at a stretch, with few or no momentary lapses.
In the room with my friends this last week I stretched even further. I was asking both of them questions and switching back and forth between them based on my momentary decisions, best judgement, and trained instinct. The system for asking questions is straightforward. While there are many sub-components, it is loosely designed to help the “explorer” uncover beliefs, following an ABC for Adversity -> Belief -> Consequence model for understanding human behavior. We call it Stimulus -> Belief -> Response.
While I find the technique of questions equally fascinating, what actually makes ours unique and useful is the attitude with which we ask questions.