When is the last time you asked yourself how to ask a good question? Never right? It’s not something we think about often, but we should. Questions are a huge part of communication, and too often we ask bad ones. When we have a question, the best way to get the best answer is to ask the best question!
This is how I go about asking a good question:
- Pause to think. I find that a majority of bad questions are asked in a rush with little to no thought first. That’s our society, rushing from one thing to another while vomitting questions or information at people as we scream by them. This chaotic, exorcist-like, environment is not best for communication. Take a beat, gather your thoughts and ask a better question.
- Consider what you want to know. If you want a yes or no answer, don’t ask an open-ended question. What is the end goal for the question? If you don’t know the end goal, don’t ask the question.
- Make the question specific. Never ask a broad question if you can ask a specific one. If you only want to know about Project A, ask only about Project A, don’t say, “How are your projects going?”
- Give complete context. When we are in a train of thought, we tend to ask questions related to them, assuming the person we are asking is thinking about the same thing at the same time. This is almost never the case. So, when asking questions, it’s critical to give the complete context for that question so that the person you are asking won’t have to ask several clarifying questions. For example, instead of saying, “How did the client respond?” say, “How did client A respond to the phone call?” identifying the person you are asking about and what response from them you are asking about.