“The art and science of asking effective questions is critical to helping clients succeed and becoming a trusted advisor. The questions we ask of others and of ourselves largely determine the quality of our interactions, the effectiveness of our solutions, the exactness of our evaluation and the breadth of our creativity.”
— Mahan Khalsa, Co-author of “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”

There is skill to asking the “right” kinds of questions.  The most effective questions are the ones that go deep and have the power to unlock a wealth of information about peoples’ needs and motivations.  They probe with “why,” “how,” and often, “why not?”  Developing and asking these types of thoughtful, unbiased questions is at the core of what we do at The Sage Network – whether it’s seeking to understand the needs of our clients, or leading a strategic planning or brainstorming session, or conducting qualitative research.  It’s also a skill that no matter how often you do it, can always be fine-tuned.

Here are some tips for asking better questions:

  • Start with a positive and open mindset – people pick up on emotions
  • Be genuinely curious and engaged – people can tell when you’re not into it
  • Minimize distractions and focus on the person you are asking questions of
  • Ask short and concise questions
  • Make your questions opened-ended to elicit robust answers
  • Avoid “either or” questions that provide answers (e.g. – “Should we do this, or that?”)
  • Keep your questions answer neutral and your opinions to yourself. Try not to ask leading questions
  • Be a real listener. Talk less and listen more.  Listen first so you know what to ask.  Then, listen to the answer to tailor an effective follow-up question!

How effective are your questioning skills?  Post your comments below.