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.


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

Karsten Noack

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


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 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.

Be ready for important conversations and negotiations


Communication can be easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say one thing and then realize later, based on the other person's reaction, that they were talking to someone else. With the best will in the world, I didn't say that. - Or did I?

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 quickly enough, and above all, if it isn't precise and vivid, the other person quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. - The conversation has failed.

You can let me help you prepare for your meetings 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 train you in effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and ultimately convince.

Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may be of interest to other readers in the comments. Looking for professional help?

If you are interested in coaching, training or consulting, if you have organizational questions, or if you want to make an appointment, you can reach me best via this contact form (you can choose whether you want to enter your personal data) or via e-mail (mail@karstennoack.com). You can also reach me by phone at +49(0)30 864 213 68 or by cell phone at +49(0)1577 704 53 56 from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 18:00. Most of the time I am in meetings, so please leave a message with your phone number in Germany. Please remember to be very specific about the reason for your call. I will get back to you as soon as possible. The privacy policy can be found here.

Transparency is important. That is why you will find answers to frequently asked questions already here, for example about me (profile), the services, the fees and getting to know me. If you like what you see, I look forward to working with you.






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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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