How to Ask the Right Questions in a Politically Correct Society

No doubt you’ve heard or read some strong statements surrounding the recent police shootings that have dominated the news, especially if you’re on social media. What you probably haven’t seen are people asking questions that might actually move the

Willie Stewart, Andy Menard (Tanner Tees), and C.J. Stewart

conversation forward.

I believe many of us run from asking questions to avoid getting a response we don’t like. If you follow me on social media, however, you’ve probably noticed that I like to ask questions. In fact, I crave being held accountable.

Asking the tough questions

I don’t just ask the easy questions, what I would consider Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Instead, I like to ask what I call Should Ask Questions (SAQs).

SAQs make you dig deeper, whereas FAQs maintain the status quo. SAQs make people uncomfortable. Sometimes SAQs make people cry, but that shouldn’t make you shy away from asking them. Remember, Jesus wept.

If you ask me, America needs to cry. You can’t be trite and shallow and solve an issue this big.

America can take a page from L.E.A.D.’s playbook on this. Here’s a look at the three-step process we engage with our Ambassadors to help them dig deeper when speaking with industry professionals, mentors and other adults with whom they come into contact.

1. Many times when we ask for advice, what we receive in return is a simplistic, trite statement. For example, one of our Ambassadors might ask an industry professional, “How does someone become successful?” and receive the answer, “Hard work pays off.”

What has our Ambassador learned from that statement? Particularly for these young men who haven’t had a job yet, what does it mean to engage in “hard work”? The answer doesn’t elevate the conversation, it completes it.

2. This is when we encourage our Ambassadors to challenge the statement – what I call “complicating” the conversation. What we want is for the answer to contain actionable advice. However, many times what we get next is a deeper answer, but not one that advances the conversation. So, perhaps the person replies, “Everyone that works hard isn’t successful.”

Fair enough, we all know people who have worked hard for years and never received any accolades, raises or other acknowledgments of their success. But again, our Ambassadors aren’t walking away with actionable advice.

3. What we want to do is ask those SAQs – specific questions that require specific answers. So, maybe now our Ambassadors ask, “What are some of the things a person can do in order to be a valuable employee?”

Now the Ambassadors get answers like “Arrive for work on time, have a positive attitude every day and engage with your boss in a manner that shows respect, meaning you don’t do things like curse during office conversation.” Finally, some actionable advice they can put to good use.

Don’t be afraid to go deep

The process of complicating things involves conversation. It’s like tennis – sometimes there are long rallies. The most important thing to remember is that what is right is more important than who is right. And as much as our society is all about being politically correct and not upsetting anyone, there can be a right person in the conversation.

Decisions are made in this country every day, from “small” decisions like a husband and wife agreeing on the color of their new minivan to deciding who is going to represent our country in the Olympics. Once upon a time, someone decided to crown the Dallas Cowboys “America’s team.”

Now the time has come to decide how blacks fit into American society.

I want this blog to give Americans a framework on how to move from simplistic and trite statements to something simple and actionable – and permission to ask those SAQs and engage in difficult conversations. 

We’d be fools to think any progress can be made without conversation and conflict.

Safe At Home Game in Atlanta, GA Saturday, Aug. 20th at Georgia Tech