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Certified techniques for asking better questions that engage

What is the right question, you ask. Is there a right question? How about, could you ask better questions? Actually, are you even asking questions? Are you a conversational steamroller? Me me me me me me, mic drop.

The first step is to be aware of, if you’re asking questions. Only then can you ask better questions. Then, are you listening to the response? Let the other person speak, especially when you feel the need to respond with your personal experience. Let them tell their story. Why are you asking these questions anyway? Is it simply to fill silence or do you actually want to know more about a topic or person? You need to know your intrinsic motivations if you want to get better results.

Next, is deciding if your questions are open ended or closed. “Was your holiday good?” Is steering the response down the avenue of good or not, where as “How was your holiday?” lets the person tell you in their own words. You may not want to introduce your bias into their answer. You want people to be able to speak freely and give their opinion, without judgement, unless you’re power hungry. We insert our bias all the time, this isn’t a flaw but something to be aware of.

Do you ask questions because you want a particular answer? The casual, how are you is often asked in casual encounters as a way to start conversation, but how often do we answer honestly? Ask naive questions if you don’t understand, get over this fear of appearing stupid. Smart people ask questions when they don’t understand, plus it allows the other person to feel good sharing knowledge about a topic they are knowledgeable in, win win.

Like all aspects of life we want to improve in, being aware is your most useful tool. Then being honest, then asking better questions.

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life – Confucius