Asking Good Questions

Asking questions is useful in many ways. The first most obvious reason is to get information. 

Asking a single question though can only get you an answer at the surface level. 

Therefore, if you really want to understand in a deeper more detailed level you must ask follow up questions. 

These questions could be in a few separate categories: Open Ended, Quantifiable, or Example Questions.

An Open-Ended questions could be Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Use Why questions sparingly though because it often makes people defensive and they tend to open up about their answers less than they could. 

Quantifying questions are more around getting specifics of ‘How much . . .’, ‘How would you measure . . . ‘, ‘How did you come up with . . .’. These are usually getting down to specific numbers. Sometimes people make grand generalizations that they don’t think about. 

Some people have a hard time communicating conceptual ideas and do better with specific scenarios. Therefore, ask example questions if you’re not getting the information you need by asking ‘Give me an example of . . . ‘  

When asking questions spend more time listening than speaking. If you are doing it right you could almost stop speaking and the person you are speaking to would just keep going on and on speaking. However, don’t do that because you’ll lose control over the direction of the conversation and may ultimately not get you the information that you want. 

Once you have asked a few questions and gain an understanding summarize what the other person has said and asked if that is correct.  

Other ways to ask questions are to steer the conversation. Asking questions is a better way to move a conversation in another direction and people receive it better than if you just make statements at them. 

Another way questions are useful is for coaching. Asking question in this context helps a person become more self sufficient and reduces dependence on you in a leadership role to have the answer or solve the problem. 


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