Better Questions, Better Answers

After all of those team meetings (and a few too many episodes of Oprah,) you’ve become quite the effective communicator. But do you always know how to ask the right questions to get the best results?

“Questions are the engine for communication,” says Dorothy Strachan, partner at Strachan-Tomlinson and Associates and author of Making Questions Work. “Asking the right questions will drive the process and the achievement of solutions.”

Strachan suggests going into a meeting “prepared to ask the right questions. You’ll have more confidence and gain more respect.” She also urges careful phrasing, since questions in highly emotional situations, like performance evaluations, can be interpreted as hostile. Avoid questions like, “Why did you do that?” which could cause the person to become defensive.

Ready to try it out?

Showing you’re interested in the response with affirmative facial expressions and digging deeper will get people to open up, according to tips offered in The Harvard Business Review. Plus, CNN gives you nine questions to ask your boss to help your career, like “How do you measure success?” and “What are options for growth within the organization?”

Not sure when to ask close-ended questions? If you are trying to gather factual information or to check a person’s understanding, all you need is a yes/no response, reports eHow and Exforsys Inc.

Use funnel questioning if you want a detailed explanation of something – just start with general questions, and then hone in on a point in each answer, asking more and more detail at each level, explains Mind Tools.

Bonus PINK Link: Click here to find out what questions to ask in job interviews.

By Caroline Cox

“Judge others by their questions rather than by their answers.” Voltaire

Share this Article