22 ways to ask better questionsHow about the quality of your questions?
Ask better questions, and as a result, you get better answers. Questions are the best way to gain more perspectives and develop more innovative solutions. Here are some recommendations for better questions because they lead to insights, creativity and excellent leadership.
Ask better questions, and as a result, you get better answers.
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
22 ways asking better questions
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
1. Think before asking a question
It seems to be the most convenient way to delegate thinking to other people. At least it seems that some people have never heard of thinking, books, telephones, Wikipedia (external link), and the Internet.
2. Honest non-suggestive questions
Suggestive questions are intended as question techniques for active conversation. Interlocutors should be directed more or less elegantly in a certain direction. The underlying intentions are more or less well-meant. There is rarely a good answer to a suggestive question.
3. Good questions don’t stress the relationship
The form of a question has the potential to improve or worsen the relationship with other people. Unfortunately, the damage is often done unnecessarily. Those who exaggerate manipulative intentions often burden the effect of questions through their attitude. If the interviewer feels the attempt of an inappropriate manipulation, the relationship to the manipulator is burdened.
The basis of good questions is good listening. Unfortunately, this ability is too often underestimated.
5. Know your intention
Any question you ask should support your intentions. Questions can help you collect facts or explore the opinion of your conversational partner. Know what kind of information you need and formulate your questions accordingly.
6. One question at a time
If you ask too many questions in a short time, you rarely get good answers to all questions. This puts a strain on the recipients and puts them in a bad state. To summarize a series of questions in one sentence does not make this any better. It is better to ask one clear question after the other.
7. Plan in advance
Plan your questions before your interview. Outline your goals and choose a series of questions that will help you conduct the conversation.
8. Beware of questions about why
Some questions lead deeper into the problem and make it more difficult to find a solution if they are used excessively. Why questions are questions that easily lead to a dead end. Moreover, such questions are easily perceived as an interrogation situation. This leads to the interlocutors concentrating on justifying themselves.
9. Know the value of open-ended questions
Good questions promote good dialogue. In contrast to yes or no questions, open questions invite the respondent to speak in more detail. This way you can collect many more details. Open-ended questions encourage the person being asked to expand ideas and explore what is important to them or what they would like to reveal. Open questions show respect for the views of others because they do not lure people to a particular type of answer.
10. Speak like your conversational partner
Use words and phrases that your listener understands and is familiar with. Rephrase if someone does not seem to understand what you are asking.
11. Don’t ask for favors, ask for advice
Most people feel comfortable when their opinions and abilities are valued. People feel comfortable when they help others. Help your conversation partner to feel good, ask for support.
12. Good questions encourage people to be part of the solution
Too often, questions sound like accusations and focus on the reasons why the person was not successful. This form of investigation puts the person in defensive mode and can change their answers.
13. Use the power of silence
After asking a question, wait for the answer, listen to the answer, and then wait. Be patient: Often the person you are asking has more information and will bring it out while you are waiting. You must be comfortable with the duration of this time of silence. People feel the need to fill the pauses in conversation, and often they will get out the critical piece of information you are looking for.
14. Be specific
Be specific because most people read bad thoughts. Say what you want.
15. Don’t interrupt
Don’t interrupt the person you’re talking with. When you interrupt someone, it tells them that you don’t appreciate them and what they say. Listen to the full answer to your question. The art of good questioning is to be interested and want the information contained in the answer.
16. Be interested in other people
People feel when you’re interested in them. Who wants to support selfish people? Don’t fake it, be interested!
17. Respect the time and expertise of others
Show that you appreciate the support you’re getting. If you do not appreciate other people’s time and effort, it is not very respectful and stresses the relationship.
18. Solution-oriented questions
With solution-oriented questions, the focus can be directed to possible solutions and the available resources. So-called systemic questions have proven to be particularly effective. Especially in deadlocked situations, they can work wonders.
19. Find ways to be helpful
Support other people. If you are interested in other people, you can find ways to help them. So other people are more likely to open up and share their thoughts.
20. Questioning techniques
Numerous question techniques have proven themselves in practice.
21. Do you want the answer?
Questions are asked again and again to which, in the end, basically no answer is desired. An answer is, first, an answer. I may like the answer or not. What I do with it is another matter. However, if there is no willingness from the beginning to deal with the answer appropriately, then the question is harmful.
22. Practice your communication skills
Practice, practice, practice. Your skills will improve over time. Remember that if you want good answers, they come from asking good questions.
Preparation of important conversations and negotiations
Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?
More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.
You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.
Just ask me personally
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Published: June 21, 2008
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 11, 2019
Translation: August 11, 2019