Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Ask-Back

I talked to my mom for an hour today. I asked her what she was grateful for. She told me many things. And then she asked me what I was grateful for. In addition to the things I could list, such as my family, passing my board exam, finishing my masters degree, living with the love of my life and having my own business, I realized that I was grateful to be asked.

It's a little piece of etiquette advise that I would like to share with the world...maybe etiquette is not the right word...maybe it's more of a form of social contracting. When someone asks you a question, it seems right to ask back. It's actually funny because sometimes I ask "how are you?" more than once because it's such a habit to reflect that question. That one is a pretty standard ask-back, but I think asking-back should be the rule in general, because it provides an opportunity for intimacy and compassionate sharing.

I have been frustrated by not being asked back a question I asked several times - I wanted to tell someone my own answer to the question I asked them. That wasn't why I asked, I was genuinely interested in their answer and I listened to their answer, but it felt like it was only half a conversation somehow when I didn't get to tell my part, too.

So try asking back. Start with me. I'll love it. If I ask you a question that can be reflected back, shoot it back to me. See what happens. You just might like it.

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