Creative Connections & Client Communications
The Talent for Asking Questions
Please see as well, pages 75-85 The Creative Astrologer and the Archives here below for July 15, 1999,”The Art of Questioning.”
This is an exercise for your astrological talent, which you can do watching television!
Television newspeople conducting interviews are trying to relate events, utterances, hearsay, rumor, theories of the day, of the moment to a responsible figure, a person involved with the circumstances. The objective is to ask questions that will frame in clear focus whatever has occurred.
How well do they do it? –This you can observe as you watch and listen … and learn how to do it well in your consultation work: relating the horoscope circumstances to specific reality focus in the life of your client.
The big mistake that is made in questioning is posing a question that is answerable by “Yes” or “No”. A “No” answer stops conversation cold. So does a “Yes” answer, but not quite as completely.
In my opinion, among television newscasters, the celebrated Connie Chung, now with CNN, exhibits the worst technique of questioning. Recall her interview (August 23, 2002) with Congressman Gary Condit with regard to his possible complicity in the Chondra Levy disappearance case. The interview was a granite-cold failure; Chung was stone-walled by Condit because she fell into his incommunicado tactic by asking an overwhelming number of Yes-No questions, something like 78% of the questions out of 116 posed!
Here is the beginning of her interview, verbatim:
“Congressman Condit, do you know what happened to Chandra Levy?”
--No, I do not. [Silence]
Did you have anything to do with her disappearance?
--No, I didn’t. [Silence]
Do you have any idea if there was anyone who wanted to harm her?
Did you cause anyone to harm her?
Did you kill Chandra Levy?
--I did not. “
And so it went, on and on and on. –What if she had said, “Congressman Condit, please share with us your theory, your thoughts about what happened to Chandra Levy.” Or “What is your inner voice telling you about this, who would want to harm her, spirit her away, why?”
Immediately, the conversation would have openings; Condit would be engaged, involved.
More recently, interviewing a Saudi Prince about the funding Al-Qaeda, Chung’s first question was “Did you give monies to Al-Qaeda?” –Now, just what is the Prince supposed to say? Of course, he said, “Absolutely not.” –Now, it’s important to observe that he did go on talking, but that’s because talking is his business(!), he is a public figure, the world is watching, he must make his stand. But in a one-on-one situation (the astrological consultation or even a discussion with a friend), if “No” or “Yes” suffices, that’s enough. Conversational development is curtailed.
What if Chung had said, “How do you feel about all the suspicions regarding this money going to Al-Qaeda?” (notice how the assumption is made that the money did go to Al-Qaeda). How rich that answer could be … in detail, in emotion, fuel for the next level of surmise and question.
In all fairness, with her recent move to CNN, I believe Chung is being coached; her questioning style is improving. But listen very carefully; rephrase Yes/No questions in your mind and feel how much stronger you can make the question, how much closer you can get to the reality of the situation.
Then, on the other hand, listen to Dan Rather (CBS) or Diane Sawyer (ABC)–I believe they are the best at the questioning technique. Dan Rather has this beautifully stimulating statement during interviews, "Help me, if you would please [and everyone wants to be helpful; it’s commendable!], help me understand this point; what is it that’s actually going on here?” This is a dynamic open-ended question that is most compelling. He really gets responses with that.
I had a client just the other day, a young man in college. He showed a dramatic transit of Pluto in relation to his Moon, always a time of major value-change or value-reorganization in life. I said, “There’s a major change of values being pressed on you here, Jack; would you help me please to understand that?”
Jack said, “Well, my roommates in our ‘house’ came to me, very nicely, I must say, and asked me to leave; they didn’t want me living with them anymore.”
I continued: “Why do you think they felt that way? “ --Note: that’s different than, “Gee, why (you’d be getting his subjective opinion)?” My question explored his empathy with the roommates. [The opening was provided when he said, “very nicely, I must say”.]
“Well, they didn’t think I was holding up my end of things; I wasn’t cleaning up the kitchen when it was my turn … Etc.”
“Jack, we’ve discussed at length how your mother disregarded, even punished you for just about everything you did at home growing up –that’s painful, that’s clear. You just stopped doing things! You waited to get out of the home and that was that. Well, how do you think that way of not doing things has fit into the situation of responsibility with your roommates?” --Read that question over carefully.
OK. It’s clear isn’t it?
The talent for conversation, for questioning, must be thought through in order for it to become polished and effective. I know that Rather and Sawyer think the questions through and write them down; I know that someone writes them down for Larry King. And I can see when the questioner is lost in the process, without careful, skilled preparation.
Barbara Waters does a much-celebrated probing, piercing job of interviewing because she goes where few interviewers have courage to go in such discussions. People expect her to, now. She asks many questions that are polarized by Yes/No and could very well stop discussion dead in its tracks if it weren’t for the celebrity status of the subject, where being expected to speak up goes with the turf.
And the finest, in my opinion, the finest questioning technique belongs to James Lipton, the award-winning producer and host of “Inside the Actors Studio” on the Bravo Channel. Exemplary technique.
Questioning discussion with your client is a very, very important part of the astrologer’s skill. It helps reveal individual reality and bring individual horoscope measurements literally and figuratively TO life.
Try this: the next time you are going to ask someone a question … even if it’s a repairman coming over to your house, don’t just say, “When will you be here?; try “You say you’re coming on Tuesday; what time in the morning will it be comfortable and reliable for you to be here?” --What a difference!
Pack your question with substance; think of the answer you would like to hear.
Listen to every television interview with the thought in mind, “Here’s how he should have said that!”
And finally ask yourself, really and truly: NOT “Is learning to ask questions important in astrology?”, BUT “How important and why is asking questions within the horoscope consultation?” or “How important is communication to the talent of being an astrologer?”
Next Update: January 30, 2003