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May 17, 2012

Ask the Right Questions

Can’t stop someone from talking?

Can’t get good answers from people?

Need to ask the same question more than once to get to the information you need?

If you don’t get the response you need when you ask questions, maybe you need to ask better questions! Here are some tips for asking questions that lead to better answers.

  • Ask open questions to elicit more than yes and no answers. Start open questions with how, what, would, which. How could we do this faster? What do you think would work in this situation? What might happen if we did it this way? Which way do you prefer? How do you feel about taking this step?
  • Ask probing questions to get more information. What else did you like? What other solution would work for you? Can you think of anything we are missing?
  • Ask leading questions to clarify and gain agreement. Leading questions often end with don’t you, won’t you, and isn’t it. Last month I didn’t have to complete the report until the 30th. That’s true this month, too, isn’t it?
  • Use closed questions to stop the other person from rambling. Closed questions require a yes or no answer.  Do you  want to add anything more to the discussion? Is it time to move on?

Being able to effectively communicate, just might start with asking the right questions!

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