I do not claim to be someone who asks questions well, but I am a good listener. Listening to others’ thoughts and words is the first step to asking good questions, I’ve heard. When you are paying attention to another person, you are showing them you care about what they have to say, what thoughts they are thinking. You demonstrate patience, inquisitiveness, and focus. But asking questions? That’s where it gets more finicky. A good question can inspire a conversation, a bad question can either derail a conversation entirely, leaving you forgetful about what you were just talking, or cause the other person to disengage entirely. A question can describe your personality in an instant, if the other person is astute enough. A question can also help you discover what another person wants to hear from you, allowing you to answer in accordance with their wishes.
If you can imagine what situation I am about to face, you are probably imagining a job interview, in which case you are correct. As I write this, I am preparing for an interview, as always. If you were to hazard a guess as to what I am doing almost any time, it’s thinking about an interview on the horizon. My mind does a bad job of disengaging from stressful future events, as they always hang over my head, regardless of how harmless and normal they are, even interviews. An interview, to me, feels like a fresh start with a new person, and even though I might tell myself that interviews are shared communications, that they depend on the happiness of both parties in order to succeed, I still feel indebted to the other party, sitting at the end of the table. It is ultimately their decision that makes or breaks this whole thing, and though my questions might lead them to choose me, I am not the final decision-maker.
But still, it is important to keep a clear head about things. Nothing here nor there will be the end of the world. It is just a matter of time. It always is.