how to ask good questions
The ability to ask good questions also helps us to learn and can even have social rewards.Questions can come in many forms. When kids are bored on a car trip or waiting in lines, this game can entertain them for an hour or more. Recent research shows that asking questions achieves both. Keep in mind the interview isn't just about making your potential employer like you. Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. Sustained personal engagement and motivation—in our lives as well as our work—require that we are always mindful of the transformative joy of asking and answering questions. Some are basic, others are quite demanding of both the questioner and the questioned. A good survey question is asked in a precise way at the right stage in the buyer’s journey to give you solid data about your customers’ needs and drives. Just as the way we ask questions can facilitate trust and the sharing of information—so, too, can the way we answer them. Understand what an open-ended question is. If we answer, how forthcoming should we be? There are few business settings in which asking questions is more important than sales. An interesting question can help you to get the conversation started but can also aid you in getting the other person to open up. 20 Questions is one of the classic "I'm bored" games that parents keep in their repertoire. Why Am I Lazy? As they answer questions at different cognitive levels—especia… Asking Good Questions is Not Easy. I’ve also put a PDF and an image of all 350 good questions to ask at the bottom of the page. Here are some challenges that commonly arise when asking and answering questions and tactics for handling them. With 350 questions to choose from, I’m confident that everyone can find plenty of good questions to ask! When you ask good questions it means that you are willing to go a step further to get the necessary explanation. That’s a missed opportunity. Published on April 16, 2019 by Shona McCombes. Alison’s research reveals that participants in a conversation enjoy being asked questions and tend to like the people asking questions more than those who answer them. Of course, at times you and your organization would be better served by keeping your cards close to your chest. To get more complete answers, craft short questions… In a meeting or group setting, it takes only a few closed-off people for questions to lose their probing power. “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” More than 80 years later, most people still fail to heed Carnegie’s sage advice. For example, “closed” questions can introduce bias and manipulation. (Shoot, sometimes we don't even listen to the answers--we're too busy presuming we're right.) They offer guidance for choosing the best type, tone, sequence, and framing of questions and for deciding what and how much information to share to reap the most benefit from our interactions, not just for ourselves but for our organizations. Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. Among the low-low pairs (both students ask a minimum of questions), participants generally report that the experience is a bit like children engaging in parallel play: They exchange statements but struggle to initiate an interactive, enjoyable, or productive dialogue. In Chapter 4 we analyzed the characteristics that make good survey questions. Although each type is abundant in natural conversation, follow-up questions seem to have special power. Conversion rates start to drop off after about 14 questions, with 11 to 14 being the optimal range. Participants who were told that others had been forthcoming were 27% likelier to reveal sensitive answers than those who were told that others had been reticent. When they asked people to take the perspective of a recruiter and choose between two candidates (equivalent except for how they responded to this question), nearly 90% preferred the candidate who “came clean” and answered the question. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. In a whiteboard setting, where anything can be erased and judgment is suspended, people are more likely to answer questions honestly and say things they otherwise might not. People also tend to be more forthcoming when given an escape hatch or “out” in a conversation. “Question everything,” Albert Einstein famously said. Follow general questions with specific ones. Participants were about twice as likely to reveal sensitive information on the casual-looking site than on the others. The wellspring of all questions is wonder and curiosity and a capacity for delight. In one set of studies, Leslie and her coauthors asked participants a series of sensitive questions, including ones about finances (“Have you ever bounced a check?”) and sex (“While an adult, have you ever felt sexual desire for a minor?”). The opposite is true, too. Research by Julie Lane and Daniel Wegner, of the University of Virginia, suggests that concealing secrets during social interactions leads to the intrusive recurrence of secret thoughts, while research by Columbia’s Michael Slepian, Jinseok Chun, and Malia Mason shows that keeping secrets—even outside of social interactions—depletes us cognitively, interferes with our ability to concentrate and remember things, and even harms long-term health and well-being. And it can mitigate business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards. Why are better deals often uncovered after the ink has dried, the tension has broken, and negotiators begin to chat freely? Once you know what kind of information you need and who to ask, you have to ask your questions in a manner that gets the best possible information in response. Yet unlike professionals such as litigators, journalists, and doctors, who are taught how to ask questions as an essential part of their training, few executives think of questioning as a skill that can be honed—or consider how their own answers to questions could make conversations more productive. In research Leslie conducted with HBS collaborators Kate Barasz and Michael Norton, she found that most people assume that it would be less damaging to refuse to answer a question that would reveal negative information—for example, “Have you ever been reprimanded at work?”—than to answer affirmatively. Other times, one of the participants may feel uncomfortable in his role or unsure about how much to share, and the conversation can feel like an interrogation. If you’re looking for a different topic, it might be covered on another Stack Exchange site. We ask questions that assume a certain answer. We pose and respond to queries in the belief that the magic of a conversation will produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This might explain why teams and groups find brainstorming sessions so productive. Leslie and her coauthors found that people are more willing to reveal sensitive information when questions are asked in a decreasing order of intrusiveness. X Research source If you're embarrassed to ask a question in front of others, consider doing it through an impersonal format like email, or wait for a time when you can do it privately. You are expected to ask a few good questions before wrapping up the interview. Group dynamics can also affect how a question asker is perceived. Questions are intended to lead to answers, to information, to the fulfillment of curiosity — something all of us have desired in our lives. 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Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School. Research involving speed daters shows that asking lots of questions unlocks learning and improves interpersonal bonding. 5 Steps to Help You Ask Good Questions. But the biggest inhibitor, in our opinion, is that most people just don’t understand how beneficial good questioning can be. But few executives think about questioning as a skill that can be honed. Great leaders ask questions not only to elicit information, but also to help others better understand the issues. Of course, there will be times when an off-the-cuff approach is inappropriate. For example, when quizzed about their partners’ preferences for activities such as reading, cooking, and exercising, high question askers were more likely to be able to guess correctly. The high-high pairs find that too many questions can also create a stilted dynamic. There are many reasons. We offer guidance for choosing the best type, tone, sequence, and framing of questions and for deciding what and how much information to share to reap the most benefit from our interactions, not just for ourselves but for our organizations. Even in a negotiation context, transparency can lead to value-creating deals; by sharing information, participants can identify elements that are relatively unimportant to one party but important to the other—the foundation of a win-win outcome. Alison Wood Brooks is the O’Brien Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Asking questions is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. Not only is the willingness to answer questions affected simply by the presence of others, but members of a group tend to follow one another’s lead. Just as important, top salespeople listen more and speak less than their counterparts overall. These questions are objective, do not lead the person being asked, and result in an answer that requires an explanation. Some people are shy in a personal situation then they can take help of emails and messages to get required answers. Participants were asked to rate the ethicality using one scale if they had engaged in a particular behavior and another scale if they hadn’t—thus revealing which antisocial acts they themselves had engaged in. There are 2 important aspects concerning the interview-questions: There is no rule of thumb for how much—or what type—of information you should disclose. Consider the following tactics. A wealth of research in survey design has shown the dangers of narrowing respondents’ options. People are more forthcoming when you ask questions in a casual way, rather than in a buttoned-up, official tone. Why ask good questions? Their natural inquisitiveness, emotional intelligence, and ability to read people put the ideal question on the tip of their tongue. Everyone should be encouraged to ask questions and not be shut out. Blue collar and I was never taught to ask good questions. All this we have documented in our research. The good news is that by asking questions, we naturally improve our emotional intelligence, which in turn makes us better questioners—a virtuous cycle. In one study, in which parents were asked what they deemed “the most important thing for children to prepare them in life,” about 60% of them chose “to think for themselves” from a list of response options.


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