Do you ever ask questions that don’t provide very good answers? I do! Which is why I continue to study the art of asking better questions that can provide me with better answers.
Here are four kinds of questions that lead to better answers:
Ask questions that show you are listening to what they are saying. Who do you ask these questions to? Whoever it is you are talking to. Maybe it is your spouse, a friend, a colleague, a client. To become a better questioner you must listen more intently so you know what questions to ask. Most people listen because you know if you listen long enough you will get a chance to talk. Change this. Instead listen with the intent to ask another question and see what happens to your conversations and your influence with people.
Ask questions that evoke thought. Whenever you ask a question and the person you asked it to has to pause, and their eyes look up before they respond. It means you are requiring them to think about the question. I call these vertical questions, because they require a person to look up and think about how they will respond.
A good example of a question may be to a friend: “If given the opportunity again, what would be a different approach to that situation?” A client “When your business is operating at its highest efficiency, what are some of the things that are happening to get it there?” Both of these questions require some thought before they would respond to them. This gets them both thinking about the situation and how it could possibly work better. Your influence and value increases in the persons eyes when you get them thinking at this level.
Ask open-ended questions that create greater clarity, possibility, or new learning. We all know that we should ask opened ended questions, don’t we? We do, but do we ask them? Open-ended questions are the Who, What, When, Where, How, Why questions. What is the value of these kinds of questions? They bring clarity to the conversation.
Instead of just saying “Does your business use vendors?”. To get clarity on what types of vendors, a better question would be “What kinds of businesses do you all usually partner with for services”. Or “Who are some of the vendors you have used in the past.” Both of these questions require clarity. To better understand a situation and get the person you are speaking with to better understand their situation, asking questions that provide clarity generates a better response and shows more value to you and especially the person who is answering the questions.
Ask questions that move people toward what they desire, not questions that ask for them to justify or look backward. Instead of asking your friend why the last diet they were on didn’t work. Say something like, “What would it look like for you 6 months from now, if you were able to eat a more balanced diet and workout consistently.” This requires them to think about the future and what a future desired state would look like. By getting them to think about how it will feel and what it will look like, they are mentally already starting to think about the suggestion you may have made or will be making so they can get to the desired future state.
So why do we want to ask better questions? If you are reading this blog post, it means you are seeking to have more influence and knowledge. To have more influence and show more value to people, you have to learn the art of asking questions that get the person answering the questions to think about their situation. When you help them do this you become a person that adds value to them and you become a more influential person.
To your success and your future.