The Questions of Good Community

I recently attended a wine and cheese night for a non-profit I support. Most of the attendees were strangers to me, but I figured we already had a number of things in common so conversation would flow somewhat naturally. I could not have been more wrong. On the bright side, there were very few awkward silences. The down side was the fact that the lack of silence was due to non-stop talking from the people I met. In retrospect, I’m not sure I was asked one question the entire evening. We are losing the art of conversation, and our connections to each other are suffering as a result.

It's time for summer pool parties, barbecues, outdoor movie nights and other resident gatherings. These can be strategic opportunities to get residents connecting and building a sense of community. However, while good food, loud music and a stocked bar may attract people, they are not enough to create more substantial connections; the sense of being known.

Krista Tippett--who’s podcast, On Being, is characterized by insightful conversations with a wide range of individuals--believes good questions can change a life. She points out that the answers we get are mirrors of our questions. Generous, open-hearted questions elicit generous, open-hearted responses. Thoughtful questions can diffuse tense situations (“What does that word mean to you?”) and positive questions can bring out joy and hopefulness (“What are you doing when you feel the most alive?”).

At CARES, we are always working to be better question-askers because we know the right question can build bridges, open hearts and empower. What questions have you found to be the most powerful in making connections with others? 


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