How To Ask Good Questions
Asking good questions is a great skill in life. Good questions can allow you to pursue the correct goal without the need to waste time and effort on something that is not required. With the right question you can solve any problem. Whether these problems are external ones that you wish to solve or whether they are personal internal problems; learning to ask the right questions is essential, without this ability you will be lost and will not be able to know how to go about overcoming any personal or external problem.
Questions asked in the right way can motivate you or others into providing more information. Asking questions correctly begins by being polite to yourself and to others. It is always a good idea, but especially when asking questions, that you think before you talk. In this way you are able to create questions that motivate others to provide the kind of information that you need. Being polite can also stop you from closing off a conversation that could be very important to you.
Before you even ask a question, ask yourself; what response do you expect? In this way you are able to anticipate a response and therefore have a follow-up question ready. Even if the answer that you expected is not given, you are prepared for that too and can more easily come up with the right counter question.
Whenever you start probing a situation, always begin by asking open ended questions. Open ended questions are questions that are not answerable with a simple yes or no response. Without these kinds of questions at the beginning of a probing conversation, it is quite possible that you will end the conversation before you get any answers at all. These open ended conversations will usually be quite general in nature but this is a good thing because it allows you to begin to get specific and allows you to see a broad view of the situation that you are investigating.
As you begin with these very general open ended questions, continue to probe yourself or the person that you are questioning. You do this by becoming more and more specific in the kind of questions that you ask. This probing always needs to include the five essential W’s which are; why, what, when, who, and how. Using a general perspective at first, you try to become more and more specific with each succeeding question.
Once you have probed the person that you are questioning, it is always a good idea to clarify what you know so far. The best way to do this is to basically state what you know; state out loud what you have discovered so far. See if this statement makes sense to you and to the person that you are questioning. With this kind of clarification you might need to begin to ask probing questions again, then once you are satisfied with the answers that you have, you can once again make a clarifying statement. The answer or answers that you are trying to discover must be sifted through in this manner, continually tweaking with clarifying statements, until you are satisfied with the accuracy of your answers.
In the end you will want to get to a definitive yes or a no conclusion. The ideal would be to be able to know that one thing or another is true with 100% certainty. Seldom is it possible to arrive at these perfect conclusions but the closer that you can get to this final objective, the better and more satisfying that your answers will be. Final conclusions like this are motivators of action in that they allow you to be certain and far more sure of the actions that you are about to take. They will also allow you to decide on which is the first step you must take in order to overcome any obstacle or start any project. By learning to ask good questions you can direct yourself towards clear decisions and actions.