…you actually want the answer.
This is a thing that makes me a little crazy.
If you ask for an opinion, you need to be able to receive the opinion.
If you ask to hear someone’s experience, you need to be open to hearing their experience.
So often, we ask a question and are open to one of the potential answers, and that’s all.
And, if possible, ask the question that you’re wanting the answer to.
There’s the stereotypical “Does this dress make me look fat?”
What does she really want to know?
Most likely, is this dress flattering to me? Regardless your size or shape, some styles are going to look better than others. Different colors look better with certain skin tones and hair colors. Some patterns suit your personality better than others.
Beyond that, the question is viewed as a trap, and for good reason.
Too often, she doesn’t actually want any answer; she wants the right answer.
(This example is a woman asking, but there are plenty of man-based examples as well. Don’t let yourself off the hook, gentlemen.)
If you are just looking for reassurance and a yes-man, tell your audience that you’re feeling a little bit uncomfortable in your skin and need some reassurance. It’s vulnerable, but it’s real.
(If you’ve never had a conversation that went anything like that, the first one might not go ideally, depending on who you’re having it with. Process it and try again.)
And if the answer is an honest, “That dress doesn’t make you look your best,” say thank you and get changed!
But in any case, don’t ask a question and then get mad that the question wasn’t answered the way you wanted.
Hurt maybe, sad maybe, happy maybe, mad at the circumstance perhaps, but mad at them for answering? No, please.
Worse than that, in my opinion, is asking someone their experience, and then telling them they’re wrong.
Whether you perceived it the same way or not, it’s their experience. Ask yourself what you have to lose by believing that it did happen to them that way.
So. If you want the answer—any answer (or any you can reasonably predict)—ask the question. Otherwise, shush.