13 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. One of the most important habits for innovative thinkers is to ask interesting questions. 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

Insights, creativity, and leadership


One of the most important habits for innovative thinkers is to ask interesting questions. Questions are the best way to gain deeper insights and develop more innovative solutions. And questions are important tools for leaders.




Follow the ancient philosophers


The famous philosophers spend their whole lives asking deep questions about the meaning of life, morality, truth and so on. What is the meaning of life? Who am I? Those are interesting questions, but we do not have to be quite so contemplative. How about the philosophy of everyday life? Yes, we also can ask the deep questions about the situations we face. It is the best way to get the information we need to make informed decisions.






13 ways asking better questions


A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Francis Bacon



1. Know your purpose


Every question you ask should support your purpose. Questions may help you gather facts or the opinion of your conversational partner. Know which kind of information you need and frame your questions accordingly.




2. Plan ahead


Plan your questions before your conversation. Outline your information goals and a sequence of related questions to help you follow the conversation and cue your notes.




3. Know the value of open-ended questions


Good questions create a good dialogue. Unlike yes-or-no questions, open-ended questions invite the respondent to talk more. This enables you to gather much more details. And also really important: Open-ended questions encourage the person being asked to expand on ideas and explore what is important to them or what is comfortable to reveal. Open-ended questions show respect for the views of others because they don’t lead people to a certain type of answer.




4. Speak like your conversational partner


Use words and phrases that your listener understands and likes. Rephrase, if someone doesn’t seem to understand what you’re asking.




5. Don’t ask for favors, ask for advice


Most people feel good when their opinions and skills are valued. People feel good when they help others. Help them feel good.




6. Questions should empower


Too often questions sound like accusations, putting the emphasis on the reasons why the person did not succeed. This form of inquiry puts the person in defensive mode and can change their answers.




7. Use the power of silence


After asking a question, wait for the response, listening to the response and then wait. Be patient: Many times the person you are questioning has more information and will bring it out when you wait for it. You have to be comfortable with that silent period. People feel a need to fill the holes in the conversation and often they will then bring out the critical bit of information you seek.




8. Be specific


Be specific because most people are bad mind reader.




9. Don’t interrupt


Don’t interrupt the person with whom you are talking. If you interrupt someone it tells the person you don’t value them and what they are saying. Listen to the full answer to your question. The art of good questioning lies in being interested and truly wanting the information that would be in the answer.




10. Be interested in others


People feel if you are interested in them. Who wants to support selfish people? Don’t fake it, be interested!




11. Respect the time and expertise of others, too


Show that you appreciate the support of someone.




12. Find ways to be helpful


Support others. If you are interested in other people you can identify ways to help them.




13. 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.


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



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

I have read and accept the privacy policy.


In the address bar of your browser, the URL should begin with "https://www.karstennoack.com/...". This indicates a secure connection (SSL). Whether you enter your real name is up to you.



How do you choose best questions?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When you submit this form, it will save the used name, email address, and content. Find out more in the privacy policy.

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

First published: June 21, 2008
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 23, 2019
Translation: April 27, 2019
German version: