When you want to know the answer.
This seems so simple…but it’s something that many people forget. They fill silent spaces at a party by social chit-chat and weather conversation – and lose opportunities to make friends or learn new things thereby. Of course they also steer clear of forming new enmities – but the really basic deep-down hatreds depend more upon relationship, race, or possession of money – you can blather a long time and not do that much harm.
When you ask a question, do so for a purpose. it may be a malicious one, like finding out where the key to the cashbox is kept – or an innocent one like does the person like cream cheese. Occasionally a question is asked just to please or comfort the listener. These are pretty harmless and lightweight, unless the hearer is being interviewed on television. In this case the question is bait being dangled to get them out of their protective crab-hole so that they can be eaten.
When you ask – do so with a sense of timing. You’ll get more results if you let the hearer have sufficient time to respond. The answer you get may be good, after all, and you want it to be proffered as a whole. If you are given a rotten lie it also needs time to sit there and start to smell. Eventually both parties will be able to smell it and the rest of the conversation will be that much more interesting.
Remember that you may be given truth, lies, or statistics designed to obfuscate the facts. Stalling may occur, but this may be to your advantage. Some answers given after due consideration are worth pursuing. Some are worth running away from.
If you don’t pursue the truth, it will eventually pursue you. Either way you get tired out but in the first case it is honourable fatigue.