When I'm gone, I want my sons to remember that I always said, "Ask questions."
In the area of communication and relationships, asking questions is key. Asking questions lets the person you're talking to know that you are interested, that you care about them, that you're engaged and aware. When you don't ask questions you lose the opportunity to gain information and understanding.
Asking questions can be a tricky thing. If I ask questions insincerely or sarcastically or in an interrogative manner I will get insincere, sarcastic or curt answers. The outcome of asking questions many times is not only getting the answer to the question. Many times I also gain insight into how the person is feeling, what emotions the questions evoke. If I watch, I see facial expressions and body language that clue me in to the emotions that are stirred by the question and the answer. If I listen closely, I sometimes hear a quiver of painful sorrow, a clearing of the throat that precedes a lie, exasperation, impatience, but also joy and relief.
Of course, the corollary to "ask questions" is "listen to the answers." If I ask and listen in a disinterested fashion, I'm sure to betray that I really don't care.
As a husband, I know that the question that my wife likes very much is,
"What can I do to help?"
That's a question that I'm sure a lot of people would like to hear.
So remember boys, "Ask questions"