ASK A QUESTION,
 GET AN ANSWER

   Editor's Note: It's time for yet another installment from that noted advice columnist, the Doctor of Communications himself, aka Dr. C. While Dr. C usually expertly answers questions from readers regarding cell phones, texting, email and other miserable complications of our modern world, Dr. C is straying a bit this week and concentrating on a more pedestrian method of communication.
   Dear Dr. C: I consider myself a fairly social guy. I'm in my early 60's and I enjoy people, most of the time. I share meals with them, play sports with them, have business meetings with them, and sometimes go to parties with them. As you know, this usually requires conversation. I think I'm pretty decent making conversation, and you know why? BECAUSE I ASK QUESTIONS! Why are there so many people out there who never ask a question? I'll finish a meal with someone and I'll know everything about their life, their work, their kids and their favorite foods. And the only thing they'll know about me is that I'm a male, because they never ask me a question about myself in return. It seems to be happening more and more. Is it a sign of the times to be so non-inquisitive? Or are people just self-centered? Signed: Nick H. from San Francisco.
   Dear Nick H: First of all, let me compliment you on a well-written, thought provoking letter. Seldom do I receive such masterpieces.
   Dear Dr. C: Thank you. Signed: Nick H. from San Francisco
   Dear Nick H: You're welcome. As for your question, it's very coincidental that Dr. C has been thinking about the same issue lately. Dr. C continuously runs into people and carries the conversation because Dr. C has no choice. Dr. C recently had dinner with a nice fellow who never asked a single question in 2 ½ hours. Dr. C really didn't have any interest in his life, but if Dr. C didn't continually ask questions, there would have been dead silence. It's not that Dr. C thinks he is any more interesting than anyone else, it's just that Dr. C needs help keeping a conversation going. Whether you care or not, it's common courtesy to feign interest.
   As for answering your question as to why so many people never ask questions, Dr. C can unequivocally state not all are narcissistic self-absorbed jerks who are only interested in talking about themselves. Those people are hopeless and have already discontinued reading this column. But Dr. C has many friends and acquaintances who are far from egocentric and have no desire to talk about themselves. They will, though, when you ask them a question. THEY JUST NEVER ASK ONE IN RETURN!
   These are the people we can help. After extensive research, Dr. C has come up with four reasons why some very lovely people never ask questions.

1. They feel like they're bothering you.

2. They don't want to get too personal and think it's none of their business. They don't want to pry.

3. They are innately non-curious.

4. They are shy and/or lazy.

   Dr. C thinks those are the stupidest reasons ever concocted. Lest we forget, we're talking about asking a question AFTER someone has asked you a similar question. For instance, if Dr. C asks if you have any children, and then asks their age and gender, and then asks about their schools or vocations, and then asks, in desperation, the color of their hair…..it should indicate the door is open to ask Dr. C if he has kids.
   Amazingly, many people never do. So Dr. C goes on to the next subject which Dr. C suddenly has zero interest in because he knows there will be no reciprocity, like what are your vacation plans next year? But Dr. C still asks, reluctantly, because that's what conversation is all about.
   As noted, Nick H., in your illustrious letter that you penned so magnificently, it is frustrating to be the one who always asks questions and gets no inquiries in return. Perhaps, by bringing this problem out into the open, some of these people (the ones that are not narcissistic) will realize that asking questions is a two-way street, and that conversations between two human beings relies on reciprocity.
   Dr. C hopes this has been helpful . Thank you again, Nick H., for your letter. Should we ever meet, we can fight over who gets to ask the first question.
 

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