How to Ask Better Questions
Strategies for getting more specific answers, easier conversation flow, and better interpersonal bonding.
Most of us ask questions on a daily basis, often without putting too much thought into how we phrase our inquiries. However, sometimes, it’s not what you’re asking — it’s how you ask it. As surprising as this may sound, there is an art and a science to asking questions. When seeking information or answers for almost anything, it’s essential to understand a few basics about asking questions to ensure you’re getting the feedback and data you’re really looking for and not setting yourself up for a one-word, one-dimensional response. Put simply — asking better questions can lead to more meaningful conversations and better results.
Here are some tips on how to ask better questions:
1. Start with why — Asking “why” questions can help you understand the motivations behind a person’s actions or decisions. It allows you to dig a little deeper beyond surface answers. Starting with why positions the asker to get to the root of the problem for a deeper analysis that can help uncover potential solutions.
2. Ask open-ended questions — Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” They eliminate an off-the-cuff, one-word answer and invite the person answering to fill in more information. Crafting an open-ended inquiry requires people to think more deeply and provide more detailed responses.
3. Avoid asking leading questions — A leading question assumes a certain answer or outcome and can create bias in the conversation. For example, asking “Don’t you think this course of action is best?” is an example of a leading question. A better way to frame the inquiry may be asking, “What do you think of this course of action?”
4. Ask clarifying follow-up questions — Clarifying, "follow-up" questions can help you better understand what someone means by asking them to explain their ideas in more detail or from a different perspective. This can also lead to new insights being gained as well as asking for further explanations on unclear points.
5. Listen actively — One of the best ways to absorb the answers you receive for any question asked is active listening. Active listening means focusing on what the other person is saying and asking questions to clarify any misunderstandings. It can also be helpful to reiterate back what someone has said to ensure that both parties are on the same page with the message received.
By asking better questions, you can gain more insight into a topic and have more meaningful conversations with others. This can help you achieve better results in many different areas of life!
Do you have questions that need to be answered?
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