22 Ways To Ask Better Questions

How about the quality of your questions?
How About the Quality of Your Questions?

Quality 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.

Overview

Ask better questions, and as a result, you get better answers.

Karsten Noack

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Voltaire

22 ways asking better questions

 

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Francis Bacon

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

4. Listening

 

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 with 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 much 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 really 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

 

There are numerous question techniques that have proven themselves in practice.

 

 

 

21. Do you really want the answer?

 

In fact, questions are asked again and again to which, in the end, basically no answer is desired. An answer is first of all 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.

 

Just ask me personally

Let's get into a conversation. Please post any questions that may interest other readers in the comments. If you are interested in coaching or training, for personal questions about that and appointments you can reach me by e-mail (mail@karstennoack.com), phone +49(0)30 864 213 68 and mobile phone +49(0)1577 704 53 56. You can also use this contact form. Please read the information about the privacy policy.

 

Karsten Noack

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How do you choose best questions?

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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 21, 2008
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 11, 2019
Translation: August 11, 2019
German version:
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