It’s hard to under-estimate the value of questions. They are the most direct and simplest tool to get information from another person.
Yet, there is no such thing as a ‘question class.’ Anything we’ve learnt about questions was probably limited to two rules:
- Start with one of the six basic adverbs (who, what, where, when, why and how)
- Place a question mark at the end of the phrase
Good trivia question: Do you know the formal name of a question mark?
The category of Questioning pulls together this important subject, which is essential information to virtually every other topic on my website, from Analytical Thinking to Training and Personal Development.
The Best Advice on Questioning
I’ll start here with the best advice I’d ever read about the value of questions, courtesy of Oprah Winfrey, who knows a thing or two about how to properly ask a good question.
First: there’s two steps to creating a good question.
- What specific information do you want?
- What specific question will get you that specific information?
She believes if you don’t know what information you want, how could you possibly draft the right question to get it? And, a good question is specific. Vague questions are hard for the respondent to answer because when they’re faced with vagueness, their brain stops for a moment as it tried to decipher the question instead of simply answering it. So, make your question precise.
Second: you want to think of all of your specific questions in advance, because once you get in front of the respondent, you do not want to have to think … of the next question, or of the validity of their answer. Think about it this piece of common sense. If you’re thinking, you’re not actively listening.
Third: while asking questions, don’t feel the need to contribute to the answer. Don’t judge their answer. Don’t argue their answer. If the your point of asking questions is to show off, to fix or adjust their answer, or deny their perspective, you’re merely looking arrogant as opposed to a good questioning strategy of being genuine, open and curious.
Why Good Questioning?
- Creates a good first impression, but asking insightful questions and demonstrating good listening skills.
- Prepares the stage for ongoing dialogue. It not only means the respondent will give you quality answers, but it means continued building of trust. That’s not just between the two of you, but potentially with other people as the respondent opens their network to you.
- Allows you to better under the issues and opportunities.
- Gives you a chance to listen for what the respondent says, doesn’t say, or perhaps doesn’t know or doesn’t want to share.
- Provides you the opportunity to test or float some general tactical ideas.
I’ll leave it here as there’s heaps of other posts about both the value of questions and listening, some included here.
- Questioning Strategy – What are the questions to ask?
- Questioning Styles – What type of questions to ask?
- Listening – What are the answers telling us, or not telling us?
- Listening Techniques – How to demonstrate listening?
- Listening to Understand vs. Listening to Reply.)
How did you learn how to ask questions?
Finally, to answer the trivia question: the formal name of the question mark is the erotreme.