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· When are you going to start looking for a job?
· When are you going to start acting like an adult?
Once again, it’s what’s underneath these “questions” that’s problematic. They might look like questions, but they are really critical comments dressed up as questions, or at least that’s the case most of the time.
In the first example you ASSUME that the other person hasn’t started looking for a job. Is that true? Are you sure? How do you know that for sure?
In the second example, it’s clear that YOU are deciding whether the other person is acting like a child or an adult. It’s a judgment. Both examples create arguments, rather than constructive discussions about the other person’s behavior.
Since these questions are really judgments of YOURS, but presented as questions, you aren’t taking responsibility for your own opinions, so these kinds of questions are passive-aggressive and tend to cloud issues, not clarify them.
Make It Better:
Say what you mean. Don’t hide behind questions to avoid responsibility for your judgments.
· John, remember we talked about how important it was to look for a job, so we could get our debts down. How is that going?
· Mary, We really need the money you’d get if you had a job, and it’s been six months. Can I help with your job search, or resume?
· Gwen, It’s scary to have to look for a job, I know, but I really need you to push a bit harder, and I’d be glad to help.