Asking Better Questions


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Asking better questions can help you get better answers, learn how to ask better questions to get to the right answers and offer more clarity.

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Asking Better Questions

  1. 1. Asking better Questions Robin Low
  2. 2. Bad Question • “Why,” “How,” or “What do you think about…,”? – An innocent question may be a bad question – This questions puts people (employees or students, etc.) on the spot, creates ambiguity and stress.
  3. 3. Ask the right kind of questions • An empowering question does more than convey respect for the person to whom it’s posed. It actually encourages that person’s development as a thinker and problem solver, thereby delivering both short-term and long- term value
  4. 4. Ask the right kind of questions • A disempowering question, on the other hand, undercuts the confidence of the person to whom it’s asked and sabotages her performance. Often, these types of questions focus on failure or betray that the questioner has an agenda.
  5. 5. Qualities of good questions • They create clarity: “Can you explain more about this situation?” • They construct better working relations: Instead of “Did you make your sales goal?” ask, “How have sales been going?” • They help people think analytically and critically: “What are the consequences of going this route?” • They inspire people to reflect and see things in fresh, unpredictable ways: “Why did this work?”
  6. 6. Qualities of good questions • They encourage breakthrough thinking: “Can that be done in any other way?” • They challenge assumptions: “What do you think you will lose if you start sharing responsibility for the implementation process?” • They create ownership of solutions: “Based on your experience, what do you suggest we do here?”
  7. 7. Good questions lead to good answers • Rhetorical questions that belittle people have no purpose but to have power over another. • Questions to force subordinates into a defensive or reactive stance do not allow people to clarify misunderstandings or achieve goals. • Several types of questions can have a negative effect on subordinates.
  8. 8. What not to ask • Why did you not submit your homework? • What’s the problem with this project? • Who isn’t keeping up? • Don’t you know any better than that? • Do you know that you are 1 hour late? • Do you think Jane is lying?
  9. 9. Clarity • Instead of asking – “How did we become so successful?” • Asking “What enabled us to be successful in coming up with an innovative strategy?” - Focuses on the process / method and clarifies on where the question is going and what answers are expected.
  10. 10. Focus on Solutions • Sometime asking what went wrong when you know what happened is not a good way to start a conversation. • Focusing on the solution may be a better way of asking what should be done. “What one idea and/or strategy that we are not currently implementing do you believe would best contribute to the success of our company?”
  11. 11. Business Questions • Sometimes asking how is not a good way to start the brainstorming process. • It puts some people on the spot, and culturally, (especially in Asia) the ambiguity will lead to uneasiness and anxiety. • Instead of asking how it could be done, by asking why, who, what and when with clarity can lead you to the solution.
  12. 12. Business Questions Why are you doing this? What are we trying to solve? Who are we helping? When should it be completed? Solution!
  13. 13. • This is what I learnt from Dave Rogers, and I would like to share and ask better questions from today! -- Robin Low