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how to ask better questions

how to ask better questions

Asking questions is essential for communication. But many people don’t always ask the right kinds of questions, and they miss out on a lot of important details as a result. Fortunately, asking questions, like anything else, is a skill that can be developed. Seeing the world around you more clearly begins with an understanding of what you are looking for while exchanging insights that lead to real discoveries. Before you ask a question, it’s worth thinking about what you hope to achieve and how you can present it to access the information you’re lacking.


[Edit]Making Sure Your Questions Have Weight

  1. Be ready to ask.[1] Many people hesitate to ask questions because they are afraid that they will appear ignorant. When you request clarification or clarification, however, it only furthers your understanding. Think of good questions as tools for understanding the world around you.[2]
    Ask Better Questions Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • If you are embarrassed to ask questions in front of others, consider doing it via an impersonal format such as email, or wait for a time when you can do it in private.
    • Asking the right questions at the right time is a characteristic of strong leaders.[3]
  2. Have a clear objective in mind. Before you ask a question, consider what you hope to accomplish by asking. Are you gathering information to make an important decision, or looking for feedback on something you’ve done? Thinking about what you want to accomplish will help you refine your line of questioning, resulting in more satisfying answers.[4]
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    • Ask yourself, “What do I hope to learn by asking this question?” This will help you to frame the question more effectively.
  3. Ask relevant and appropriate questions. There may be certain times when it’s better to keep your questions to yourself. It may be that the question is likely to cause confusion or offense, or that the answer is something you can figure out on your own with the right context clues. Consider your question carefully and consider what, if anything, it will add to the conversation.[5]
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    • If the question you’re about to ask is one you don’t feel comfortable answering, it’s better to let it go.
    • Unnecessary or obvious questions can distract from the bigger picture, and can make it seem like you’re not paying attention.
  4. ask the right person. Not everyone has the same feelings, experiences or expertise. If the answer you receive is going to be of any use to you, it needs to come from an official source. Ask your question to someone who you think may be able to provide the insight you are looking for, or who has a direct relationship with the topic you are inquiring about.[6]
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    • You wouldn’t ask your spouse how to treat acute bronchitis any more than you would ask your doctor how you could be a better listener during an argument.
    • By directing your questions judiciously, you stand to make the discussion more enriching for both parties.

[Edit]ask more effective questions

  1. Ask questions as they come to you. It’s usually best to get your question out there while it’s still fresh in your mind. That way, you won’t forget or feel embarrassed to ask later. You will also be given a chance to clarify important information before moving on to other concerns.
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    • In most cases, you can raise your hand or wait for a pause in conversation to fire off your question.
    • If you’re not in a position to ask a question right away (like late at night or in the middle of a presentation), make a note of it so you can bring it up the first time you get a chance.
  2. Write your questions carefully. Ideally, they should be phrased in such a way as to point to the information you are lacking. You may know what something is, but not how it works or why it is important. How you frame your question can determine the kind of response you get.[7]
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    • Stay away from complicated jargon or overly technical terms. Aim to speak in a way that anyone can understand.
    • Avoid overwhelming your listener with your judgments. Instead of asking, “Isn’t David a great candidate?” Try a more neutral, “What did you think of Mr. Miller’s offer?”[8]
  3. keep it brief. Do not use more words than necessary to clarify your question. If you go into detail or add a lot of qualifications or other extraneous details, your listener can easily get bogged down. For clarity, each question should boil down to a central theme or idea.[9]
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    • If you need to touch on several points, do so in a follow-up question.[10]
    • In general, it’s best to stick with short sentences that don’t beat around the bush. Otherwise, your listener may be forced to guess your meaning.
    • It’s even harder to open up to a question as simple as, “How can we create a more tolerant society?” Simple, can be said simply.
  4. Listen carefully to the answer.[11] As you’re receiving an answer, be respectful and focus on what the person is saying without interrupting. Let them finish their explanation before offering a rebuttal or asking a related question. Any uncertainty you feel will be dispelled by their response.[12]
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    • Maintain eye contact, nod, or offer vocal agreement from time to time to let the person know you are listening.[13]
    • Now is not the time to interfere with doubts or opinions. After all, the whole point of asking was to find out something you don’t already know.
  5. Ask follow up questions. The answer you receive may raise more questions, or it may prompt new information. Once you’ve asked your opening question, you can zoom in to get a clearer understanding of the ideas being communicated. Give the other person a chance to explain your perspective more thoroughly, or shift the discussion from stating facts to coming up with practical solutions.[14]
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    • It can be beneficial to look at the topic from different angles. If your first question is, “What is the biggest obstacle facing this project?” The next question might be, “How can we resolve this issue quickly and efficiently?”[15]
    • Summarize subsequent questions as you distribute them – start by presenting an overview of the topic, then work your way into finer details.

[Edit]posing questions in different situations

  1. Request specific information. When you need to know something, asking directly is often the best way to find out. Your question can be as simple as “What time is it?” or “How is ribosomal RNA produced?” Kind of complicated, but in any case, you’ll be better off asking once.[16]
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    • Getting to the right answer quickly will be most useful in situations where your ability to succeed depends on having all the facts, such as when you’re studying for a test or need directions.
    • Developing the habit of asking thoughtful questions every day is one of the first steps in becoming a lifelong learner.[17]
  2. Find out someone’s views or opinions. Sometimes, our most fascinating ideas are the result of other people’s observations. Whenever you can, encourage your audience to read about a particular issue or event. Asking someone how they feel allows them to share their unique perspective, which may bring things to your attention that you may not have considered before.[18]
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    • Asking inclusive questions that involve the people around you and thinking is essential to creating camaraderie, whether they’re a coworker or a casual acquaintance.[19]
    • These types of questions also have a positive effect on relationships because they show that you care about what the other person has to say.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Try not to limit your questions to a set of prescriptive options (“Is holistic medicine a good or bad thing?”). It’s better to keep them abstract to make room for a wider range of possible responses. Open-ended prompts are useful for starting deep discussions that have the potential to lead to enlightening breakthroughs.[20]
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    • While “Did you like my painting?” invites a simple “yes” or “no” response, “What did you think of the exhibit?” Invites listeners to elaborate freely on their impressions.[21]
    • Abstract questions challenge listeners to draw their own conclusions rather than being directed toward a conventional answer.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask your questions when they arise—the more you ask, the more you’ll learn.
  • Be prepared to accept answers with an open mind. If you are stubborn or indifferent to the answers, you will not benefit from what you are being told.
  • Familiarize yourself with the six common question words (“who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how”) and use the most appropriate one for the situation.
  • Admit that you know less than you do. You may find out that you were given wrong information about a certain topic.


  • Avoid asking questions that could be perceived as rude or disrespectful. This is likely to alienate the listener, which will only harm your chances of reaching a place of mutual understanding.


  1. [v161440_b01], 11 June 2020.
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellindenmayer/2013/06/18/ask-great-question-leadership-skills-of-socrates/#3d6002259879
  3. http://bigthink.com/think-tank/want-to-lead-learn-to-ask-the-right-questions
  4. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-amazingly-good-asking-questions.html
  5. https://www.thindifference.com/2016/07/ask-better-questions/
  6. https://www.inc.com/kat-boogaard/5-mistakes-youre-making-when-asking-questions.html
  7. http://www.dummies.com/careers/find-a-job/interviews/ten-tips-for-asking-good-questions/
  8. https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/5-ways-to-ask-the-perfect-question.html
  9. https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/5-ways-to-ask-the-perfect-question.html
  10. http://www.dummies.com/careers/find-a-job/interviews/ten-tips-for-asking-good-questions/
  11. [v161440_b01], 11 June 2020.
  12. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-amazingly-good-asking-questions.html
  13. https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm
  14. https://thecoffeelicious.com/how-to-ask-better-questions-199bb6f6e696
  15. https://michaelhyatt.com/asking-more-powerful-questions.html
  16. https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/ask-good-questions-infographic
  17. https://trainingmag.com/how-become-lifelong-learner
  18. https://michaelhyatt.com/asking-more-powerful-questions.html
  19. https://www.fastcompany.com/3043487/how-to-ask-better-questions
  20. http://www.dummies.com/careers/find-a-job/interviews/ten-tips-for-asking-good-questions/
  21. https://www.thindifference.com/2016/07/ask-better-questions/


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