New and seasoned spouses are probably members of a lot of Facebook groups just for MilSOs at their current duty station. These groups provide a lot of good resources depending on the involvement and attitudes of the members and admins.
I enjoy these groups as a general resource, but I prefer to search versus ask new questions. Well, I sometimes ask to adopt plants, but that’s about it. Everything else I can search otherwise and get the answers that I want, but not everyone has the patience to search, and asking a question to a group is easier for some others. This post exists to help you ask questions better, which helps you get more relevant answers!
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These groups are started and maintained by spouses, and will have nothing to do with the installation otherwise. This means that nobody is getting paid, and that the military is not involved. Usually each installation will have one or two catch-all groups with thousands of members, like “Fort Leavenworth Spouses,” but you can also find groups aimed at a specific subset, like numbered detachments at a specific post or base. Smaller groups often splinter into rank (Os or Es), branch (because most installations have some blend, and it’s normal for example to have Navy spouses in an Army post group), and especially lifestyle and hobbies.
how to ask better questions
Finding social networking groups that suit you is a magical thing. It paves the way to new friends, and we all enjoy feeling that kinship in a new land. Speaking of new land I often see spouses ask general questions to a group and receive a ton of irrelevant answers. I really want to talk about how to ask better questions.
Does it matter how you ask questions? YES. When you ask good questions, the answers you receive are more relevant -thus more valuable. This saves time for you and the responders.
Examples will save us all here. Let’s see some good and bad questions!
- “Hey! We’re moving to your base and want to know where to live. TIA!”
- “Looking for dentist.”
- “My mother-in-law’s plane has been delayed for sixteen hours and now I need to pick her up at four PM tomorrow and I am looking for a babysitter, ty”
- “Hey! We’re moving to your base in June and are looking for neighborhood recommendations. We have two kids (1st and 3rd grade) and a big dog. Looking to be within 20 minutes drive from the base, seeking good public schools.”
- “Hi, I’m looking for a dentist who takes Tricare Prime (United Concordia). I have dental anxiety and prefer female hygienists and dentists.”
- “Hi, I need a babysitter tomorrow afternoon after school. Just need eyes on twin 7th graders, about four hours. Prefer older teen with babysitting experience. Will provide pizza.”
Question one; see those details? Good details help the readers understand your situation and the ones who identify can give the best information. Readers in the target radius probably know about schools. And others may know pet-friendly properties with a backyard that will be available in the summer. Win-win.
Question two; again, look at the details. You’re probably not the only one with dental anxiety, and specifying that you are the subject should eliminate suggestions to visit irrelevant pediatric dentists.
Question three, dare I say…details? This time the details have shifted from “don’t need to share” to “relevant information.” Some people are very good at sharing details that don’t matter. If you ask detailed questions but receive few responses on an active page, you probably include details that don’t matter and you bury the good stuff.
gain valuable information
But…each good example is longer. Yep. Being brief has it’s time and place. If you are trying to gain valuable information it is worth it to take time to write a solid albeit longer question.
Take a minute and use DOS.
Okay, I’m in. I can see which question is better, but how do I write like that? It does take a little practice, but it gets easier, I promise. Take a minute and use DOS.
First – just take a little time to think about details that you WANT, and that will help you with the details that you should provide. Example: You want a running buddy. Think about your ability, and what you want in the buddy. Looking for someone to start a Couch-to-5K is different than running with a seasoned marathoner. “Seeking running buddy for 5K motivation” is not equal to “Seeking running buddy for upcoming ultra marathon”
- Mister Jupiter pointed out that a good thing to consider is a bad answer to your question, and form your question to avoid that bad answer. Example: I am looking for a dog-friendly house within walking distance from a grocery store. If a bad answer is “apartment in the suburb” then I would think about it and be specific. So I don’t ask “Moving there in June, looking for a nice rental” instead I get specific (to avoid the bad answer) and ask “Moving there in June, looking for a rental in the city. Bringing big dog, and I want to be walking distance from a good grocery store. Any suggestions?”
Second – use crew.co’s DOS formula. Be Direct, ask Open-ended questions, and keep it Short.
Being direct IS being specific, that’s all. We just talked about this.
Open-ended questions cannot be quickly answered by a “yes” or “no.” Example: You ask “Is the vet on base good?” Someone simply says “yes.” This doesn’t help you. Instead ask “How is the vet on base?” Or “How is the vet with elderly hedgehogs?”
you may need a quick answer
Keeping it short includes simply asking, and from crew.co -not- providing answers. This is good or bad depending on the questions. If interviewing a person (as the situation is framed in their article) I agree on not providing answers. But away from interviews, you may need a quick answer. Example: “We’re planning a brunch date with the in-laws, should we go to X or Y?” This is good if you have narrowed down the options, just be open and prepared for people like me who might recommend something else.
Wow. This was longer than I expected. That happens. But thank you for sticking around, I hope you learned something new. And if you didn’t, then I am honored to have a skilled questioner reading. If that is you, do you have further suggestions?
- You might also enjoy reading: Planning a Smooth HHG Pack Out