Have you ever noticed that money questions seem to always be loaded and that there’s never a good way to ask a question when it comes to money. Even the simplest question like “does this bill need to be paid now?” can dissolve the most amicable relationship into a battlefield.
Why? Because every question is loaded with past history of other “bad” money conversations. And, that loading is with both the speaker and the listener. The speaker could be worrying there’s not enough money now. Or, implying that it was unnecessary in the first place and a waste of money. Or, wondering why they are the one to always worry about the bills.
What about the listeners’ load? Maybe they’re hearing the judging voice of their mother (or father). Or, feeling guilty about that particular bill. Or, tired from a long day at work and just don’t feel like paying attention to anything right now. Whatever it is, all this loading is going to make any productive talk difficult.
Or, maybe–and here’s the important point–it’s just a simple question, a clarifying question looking for some information. Nothing more. Why does this simple question have to turn into an opportunity for stress and frustration? Why? Because we jump to conclusions based on our own assumptions without taking time to be curious about what’s really at play. And what’s worse is the deadly interaction is over before we even know what hit us because these interactions have become part of the air we breathe.
So here’s a simple solution: break the old habit by asking simple questions in a new way. With careful crafting of an “unloaded” email or text, you’ll develop new skills for asking and responding and leave some of those assumptions behind. If nothing else, it’ll slow down communication so both parties can dump whatever loads they’re carrying and show up with a clean slate. That’s how real communication begins.
I’m going to try it. Why don’t you?