Let's start with this: You're probably wondering what a 'better' question is..
A 'better' question= a question that either fuels a conversation, helps you think about something more deeply.
When you're asking for directions or instructions, as well as clarifications, it's good for your questions to be clear and concise and for the other person to instantly understand what you mean and avoid confusion.
However, in other situations, an even better question would get you more information - it would give you insights for problem solving and show you opportunities you weren't aware of before. It would fuel your creativity & help you learn new things.
So how do we ask better questions?
There is no formula, but we can still make it easier for ourselves to ask better questions:
1. It all starts with actually listening.
- Listening to what someone else has to say without judgement and while trying to not get lost in your own thoughts.
- Listening to yourself and what you think needs more of your attention.
2. When you really listen, it unlocks another feature of better questions: asking follow up questions.
When we ask follow up questions, we keep the conversation going, make the other person feel heard and show that we're interested, which creates more trust.
Asking follow up questions has actually been found to make others like you more by Harvard Researchers.
3. It's also good to know that there are different type of questions:
- Closed questions: limited number of answers, often yes or no. <-- only needed when you need a clear answer right away e.g. instructions
- Open-ended questions: allow space for discussions and often need more explanation <-- use these!
- Follow up questions: expands the conversation and lets you find out more (as discussed above) <-- use these!
- Leading questions: steers a conversation in a certain direction. <-- these should probably be avoided in more casual conversations
4. Another piece of advice would be to be curious and open-minded & have courage to ask questions.
After all, the fear of 'looking stupid' doesn't beat the fact that you will learn something and create better connections with others. Maybe this quote will help remind you:
“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”
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