Questionable Advice #1: Growth-Focused Conversations

Questionable Advice (4)

Questionable Advice #1: Growth-Focused Conversations

The only advice column that gives you more questions than answers.


From Tiffany, in a response to the prompt:

What is something in your life that fills you with joy?

I find joy in having deep, difficult, healing, growth-focused conversations. I also process life with questions that are personal to me. When I can have those conversations where we can ask those hard questions of others and ourselves and acknowledge our own shortcomings and become aware of where we become defensive or shut down I am truly dancing on the inside. I am intentionally pursuing these conversations and relationships in my life and am so grateful that they are happening on a regular basis.

Hi Tiffany,

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write and send this to me! I’m grateful for your note, as it also provides joy for me to connect and engage in these conversations with fellow questioners. I certainly can relate to how much purpose you derive in growth-focused conversations.

Secondly, in five short sentences, I feel like your voice jumped off the page. It’s clear that you’ve developed quite a bit of self-awareness (and the awareness to know that we’re never fully self-aware). When I read the line “dancing on the inside,” I interpreted it as a nervous “stomach” dancing. You know the feeling – the anxious, defensive ones we get when we feel vulnerable. However, upon re-reading, I realized you might have been “dancing” in a positive sense – because of how much joy and excitement you take from the process.

It struck me how funny (and accurate) it could be that both are true.

As promised, here are some questions personalized for you based on what you wrote to me. I hope they provide some inspiration for those deep, difficult, healing, and growth-focused conversations you enjoy in your life.

1. When you use personal questions to process your life, what language are you using? Have you noticed a difference in the self-knowledge you find based on the type of questions you ask?

Our mindset toward things has so much influence on how we perceive situations. It’s extremely evident that you have a growth mindset, and I’d wager to guess your soul-searching rarely ends with, “Why is this happening? Why me?” Still, I think it’s always helpful to step back and reflect on the language we use in our self-questioning. Your process involves questions. Inevitably, emotions and vulnerabilities will influence that process in a, for lack of a better term, not-so-helpful way.

It might come out in the type of questions you’re asking, or the language, or the number of questions. I wonder if you can point to different times in your life when your questions changed and, as a result, so did your situation.

2. What about deep, difficult, growth-focused conversations is most healing for you?

I love that you used the word healing. It’s a word I’ve rarely used. For me, when I talk about self-discovery and self-awareness, I default to the idea of expanding into fuller versions of ourselves. At first thought, healing seems the opposite of expansion (at least, to me). It’s rooted in the past, previous versions of ourselves.

But the more I think about it, the more I see how healing – even if it’s in the past – is necessary before moving forward. (This question seemed to be more for me than for you, but that’s what questioners give each other, right??)

3. Who in your life provides you with the most opportunities for these conversations? Who is someone in your life who might give you more growth-focused conversations that you’ve overlooked?

You say that you’re intentional about pursuing people in your life who can give you these conversations regularly. Part one of this question (who in your life provides you the most opportunities) might be an easy one. However, I urge you to take it further. Consider what types of conversations you have with these people. We tend to compartmentalize our conversational topics with certain people. I talk to my friends for relationship conversations, my coworkers for work questions, my parents for career questions. I wonder what would happen if I crossed the streams. Yes, we have our go-to person, but who else can we gain insight from?

Hopefully, part two of this question might give you a bit more to think about, too. You’re seeking out these meaningful relationships, but in doing so, are you perhaps narrowing your sights on a specific type of person or role in your life? Could you go to someone who you wouldn’t normally? Even a stranger? After all, it might just be the “overlooked” person who can give you what you need.

4. Growth-focused conversations are crucial, but how have smaller, “shallower” conversations also helped you grow?

We often overlook the impact that the small, everyday interactions can have on us. I’m like you; I love to dive into deep, growth-focused conversations, explore what makes people (and myself) tick, and contemplate revealing truths. Sometimes, I don’t consider the smaller, everyday conversations as impactful. However, I’ve learned that the routine questions – and even “small talk” – can reveal more truths about ourselves than we know. We just have to be open to the insight we can learn.

Thank you again for reaching out. I really do mean it when I say that emails like yours are what inspire me to keep writing, thinking, and questioning.



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