What’s on your mind? Facebook asks me that every single time! How are you? How’s it going? These are questions that aim to start a conversation. Why are you here? How did you do that? These questions are geared towards hearing more explanation and understanding. Are you going? Do you like that? These questions require a specific and direct response. We ask questions because we want to know; we want to understand. We ask questions because we want answers and every answer is important. From answers, we draw conclusions, we decide based on it. But sometimes questions are more important than answers.
All my life I have tried to challenge the statement, there are no stupid questions. It was only in January of this year that I finally succeeded! In January, I went back to the Philippines to get married. And to make the most out of my very short stay, I have arranged for a private pool resort out of town to get together with my friends and have a little party. So I asked my cousin who owns the resort how to get there. She sent me a text message of the directions. She mentioned what exit to take on the highway, turn left after the exit and gave me 711 and a water district as the landmarks then we can turn right and the resort would be to our left. So we drove early in the morning to a 3 hour drive to the resort. After the highway exit, we turned left. Following my cousin’s direction we should pass by a 711 store and turn right after the water district. We’ve been on the road for 20 minutes and no sign of the landmarks we’re looking for and by the looks of it, we are obviously lost. I don’t have my cousin’s mobile number so I tried her on facebook but she’s not responding. My friend tried to Google map the address and all it showed was a green dot, which is where we were and a massive white all around it. Clearly there are not a lot of people who use maps in the Philippines. I’m not sure if that’s why the maps are not updated or the other way around. For the first time, the map offered no answer at all so we figured we can ask around. My other friend volunteered and got off the car and asked a man standing by the street while we pulled over to the side and wait quietly in the car. When he came back, he said the man told him we missed a turn. So we turned around and took a turn, soon enough we passed by the 711 store so we all thought we’re finally on the right track. But then 15minutes of driving and yet no water district on sight, not even a street where we could turn right. So my friend decided we need to ask again so we pulled over and he got off the car. When he came back he said we’re on the right path it’s just going to be a few kilometers more. So we were relieved and went on. 5 kilometers after, it looked like the road is winding down and soon enough there we were headed to a dead end. We’ve been going around the town for 45 minutes and I it’s starting to upset me. So I asked my friend, “what did the first and the second guy told you?” My friend said, “well I asked where the 711 store is that’s close to the water district and he said we missed a turn so I told you we need to turn around. And then I asked the second guy where the water district is and he said it’s at the end of this road closer to the river.” Dead silent inside the car but my brain shouted wow! We are heading to the right direction after all – that is if we want to go to the water district! I decided to just call my aunt’s home, because that’s the only landline number I can recall after being gone for a year, so I can get my other aunt’s office number to get their home phone number to try to get my cousin’s mobile number so I can call her. Half an hour later, I was able to reach my cousin and we finally got to the resort exhausted.
Asking the right questions take as much skill as giving the right answer. As odd as it sounds, we need to first identify what answers we want so we know what kind of questions to ask. Formulating questions is like using a computer – garbage in, garbage out. Whatever quality of data you put in is the same quality of data you can expect to get. Even Google search is all about formulating a good question. If you formulate a bad keyword to search – vague and unclear, it’s not going to give you a useful answer.
To conclude my speech I wanted to leave you with a quote and so I googled it and found an African proverb that says “the one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way”. Uhm, not really. I clicked the next button and found this:
“There are no right answers to wrong questions” – by Ursula Le Guin.
I wrote this speech for the 6th speech project on the Competent Communication manual Vocal Variety. The objectives of this speech are:
- Use voice volume, pitch, rate, and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message
- Use pauses to enhance your message
- Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally