When examining witnesses at trial or taking depositions, lawyers ask questions, right? But what kind of questions are they asking? Are they information-seeking questions? Are they curious questions?
No. They are questions to which the lawyer already knows the answer, questions designed to elicit evidence, including admissions of bad behavior.
If you look up the verb “question” in a thesaurus, you”ll see as synonyms “interrogate,” “cross-examine,” “challenge" and “dispute.” Why? Probably because questions are used so frequently in our culture not to gather information, but to entrap. Not as an expression of curiosity, but as a route to a particular goal.
Do you ask your spouse or your children this type of question? If you do, for what purpose? Are you trying to gain an admission, win an argument, teach a lesson? What effect does your questioning have? Do you get calm, honest, informative answers? Or do you face resistance? Do problems get solved, or do tension and conflict increase? Do you feel better? Does your spouse? Your child? (Note that my questions aren’t really curious questions either. I have answers in mind.)
If your spouse or child responds defensively to you, consider whether the nature of the question is a root of the problem. If you are trying to entrap, that intention will be clear, and you are not likely to receive a calm and helpful answer. Nobody wants to feel cornered or manipulated.
If you’re experiencing discord at home, work on your questioning style. I highly recommend two books by Sharon Strand Ellison: Taking the War Out of Our Words, and Taking Power Struggle Out of Parenting.