This article discusses two ways to ask questions about others by questioning and asking, and the insights in it can help us improve our Communication Skills. This article is translated from the personal blog of the German software engineering manager “Candost”. Original link:

These two words—「questioning」 and 「asking」—have different meanings, although both often refer to the same meaning.

“Question” and “ask” have different meanings.

When we question a person or a piece of work, we meet with resistance. Questioning judges, investigates or interrogates. It looks for gaps, expects a valid reason why there are gaps, and tells that there might be consequences.

When we interrogate a person or a thing, we often encounter resistance. Questioning means judging, investigating, interrogating. It happily looks for loopholes, expects them to be explained rationally, and then warns of possible consequences.

In facing with resistance, we simply say, “I’m just asking!” trying to release some tension.

When faced with resistance, we will lightly say “I was just asking you!” “To disguise the tense atmosphere of the sword.”

We don’t say, “I’m just questioning!”

We don’t say, “I’m just questioning you!” ”

That’s the nuance.

It’s subtle.

When asking (non-rhetorical questions), we have curiosity, we seek information purely to fill our knowledge gap. We ask because we want to learn.

When we ask, rather than rhetorically, we are curious, and we are purely looking for information to fill in the intellectual blind spots. We ask questions because we learn.

That’s why the advice for young professionals (e.g., junior software engineers) is “ask questions,” not “question things.” Although we want them to question the status quo, we expect them to ask first.

That’s why we advise younger professionals, such as junior software engineers, to “ask more” rather than “question everything.” While we expect them to question the status quo, we expect them to ask questions first.

We may argue about both being the same if the intention is correct. I don’t think so. Because the intention is invisible.

We might argue that both intentions are correct. I don’t think so, because intentions are invisible.

We don’t see anyone’s intention when they question us or ask us questions. When someone messages me, I read the message. I pay attention to the words they choose.

When we are questioned or questioned, we see no intent. When someone sends me a message, I will only read that message and will only pay attention to what they say.

If we’re in a conversation, the other side may make their intention somehow visible. Because we hear their voice. We observe their behavior and body language.

If we are in a conversation, the other party may deliberately show their intentions. This is because, we need to hear their voices, we need to see their body language.

As long as they don’t reflect their intentions on their tone, body language, behavior, or words, we hear them as either condescending or uninterested in learning how things are done.

As long as they don’t deliberately show their intentions through phonetic intonation, body language, behavior, or discourse, what we hear will be superiority and indifference.

If we say, “I’m just asking!” one more time, we know where we stand.

If we repeat “I’m just asking!” Then we will immediately understand our position.

Now, I ask, are you questioning or asking a question?

Now, I ask you, are you questioning or asking?

If you’re going to ask, ask. Don’t question.

If you’re just going to ask a question, please ask a question. Don’t question it.

If you’re going to question, first ask, then question.

If you are planning to question, ask questions before you ask.

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