Asking Good Questions!

Author: Al Perla | May 4, 2020

The Middough Brand Promise states –“As your single source for project solutions, Middough promises a flexible team that will understand your needs and deliver results on task, on time and on budget. We are committed to achieving your goals with expert advice, innovative ideas and smart management.”

The ability to ask good questions affects every aspect of our jobs and lives. Our Brand Promise depends on it! Well-crafted questions can stimulate, draw out, and guide discussion. Here are a few tips for asking good questions:

  • Plan your questions. Before your meeting, outline your information goals and a sequence of related questions to help you shape the conversation.
  • Know your purpose. Every question you ask should help you gather facts or an opinion. Know which kind of information you need and frame your questions accordingly.
  • Open conversation. Unlike simple yes-or-no questions, open-ended questions invite the respondent to talk —and enable you to gather much more information. Another tactic is to ask a question in a declarative format —“Tell me about that.” People who won’t answer questions sometimes respond better to a direct order.
  • Speak your listener’s language. Relate questions to the listener’s frame of reference and use•words and phrases that your listener understands. If they don’t seem to understand what you’re asking, try rephrasing.
  • Use neutral wording. Avoid asking leading questions that interject your opinion, because it may influence the response you get. A neutral question that elicits an honest opinion —such as “How did you like it?” —is much more helpful.
  • Follow general questions with specific ones. Build a hierarchy of questions that begin with the big picture in mind and gradually drill down into specifics with follow-up questions.
  • Focus your questions so they ask one thing at a time. To get more complete answers, craft short questions, each of which covers a single point. If you really want to know two different things, ask two different questions.
  • Ask only essential questions. If you don’t really care about the information that’s likely to come, don’t ask the question. Respect the other person’s time by asking questions that are relevant and add to the discussion.•Don’t interrupt. Listen to the full answer to your question. The art of good questioning lies in truly wanting the information provided in the answer.
  • The power of silence. Get comfortable with asking a question, waiting for a response, listening to the response and then waiting some more. Many times, the person you are questioning has more information and will bring it out when you wait for it. People feel the need to fill the holes in the conversation and often they will then bring out the critical bit of information you seek.
  • Transition naturally. Use something in the answer to frame your next question. Even if this takes you off your planned path for a while, it shows that you’re listening, not just hammering through your agenda, and it ensures that the conversation flows naturally.

Remember to be attentive and practice active listening. Most of us think about the way we will reply when somebody else is speaking. Try to stay focused on what is being said and don’t get overly distracted by what you will say next. Focus becomes easier when you are not worrying about the way you will respond.

Also, remember to memorialize things while they are still fresh in your mind. These tips and techniques will improve our ability to understand our client’s needs, meet their goals and achieve PERFORMANCE YOU TRUST™.