Secrets to Mastering the Art of Asking Questions


Inquisitiveness and curiosity to get knowledge leads one to ask questions. Asking questions and questioning is also an art. Asking the right questions at the right time and to the right person is very crucial to satisfy one’s curiosity. It provides learning as an art, fuels innovation, improves performance, mitigates risks, and builds trust. Framing questions in an appropriate tone, using simple language without jargon, in the proper sequence in which they should be asked are all forms of the art of asking questions. 

Good questions stimulate strategic conversations, surface crucial assumptions, encourage curiosity, focused inquiry, and generate even better questions. It can also be noted that healthy skepticism in an age of misinformation and post-truth generates good questions. Sometimes the best response to a partial answer is to say nothing. This is also known as practicing strategic silence. 

What Are Open-Ended Questions?

An open-ended question is one that cannot have a single word answer e.g., yes or no. Open-ended questions are framed in a way that they have to be answered with a response. It can be concluded that open questions are good questions. The answers to these are long, giving you a chance to demonstrate your understanding. They are preferred over close-ended questions because they are better for discussions, while closed questions account for testing. Educational practitioners should be aiming for questions that are grammatically closed but conceptually open.  

How Can You Master the Art of Asking Questions?

The five main phases to master, the art of asking questions, are - envision, speculate, explore, adapt, and close. While working in the corporate or starting your own business, it is extremely crucial that you have envisioned your project at the said firm. It is important for you to know about your standing and be more speculative about the decisions you will take to meet the requirements so that you can ask your doubts clearly. 

The next step for you to ace is exploring your horizons, seeking newer dimensions to have your questions answered perfectly. Adapting to the environment you are in also gives rise to many to-the-point queries helping you to master the art of questioning. Closing your situation by asking yourself stuff like what decisions you would have taken at a given time given that you were in your junior or superior position also fuels your learning of better questioning.

What Are the Different Types of Questions?

Questions are of different types. Some are open-ended; some are closed-ended. Some questions are spoken, whereas some stay only in one’s mind. A person keeps seeking answers to million questions right from the day he/she is born as there is a quest for curiosity.

The questions and narrow view of the problem with the affirmation of what we would like to know gives a lot of satisfaction. If the question is clarifying, the wider view is adjoining. Similarly, the narrow view of the problem with discovering something new intent is funneling, while the wider view is elevating. Thus, clarifying, adjoining, funneling, and elevating are the main four types in which questions are classified.

Clarifying questions helps us better understand what has been said. It can help uncover the real intent and better understand each other to lead us toward relevant follow-up questions. e.g. Can you tell me more?

Adjoining questions are used to explore related aspects of the problem that are ignored in the conversation. e.g. What are the related uses of this?

Funneling questions are used to dive deeper, understand how an answer was derived, challenge assumptions, and understand the root causes of problems. e.g. Why did you not include this paragraph?

Elevating questions raises broader issues and highlights the bigger picture, helping you to zoom out, and sometimes, being too immersed in an immediate problem makes it harder to see the overall context behind it. e.g. Are we even asking the right person?

For further reading, Author Terry J. Fadem in his book, ‘The Art of Asking: Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers’ reviews the ways to get better at asking questions with proper examples. The proper care to be taken about the tone, language, along with the types of questions is explained in detail.

Written by - Saee Wagh

Edited by - Mayank Tak

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