How to Ask Intelligent Questions

Advice for Asking Smart Questions

If you’re looking for an intelligent answer, you first need to know how to ask intelligent questions. This is an effective way to communicate, and people around you will feel more at ease during conversations. Follow these simple suggestions, and you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the quality of your dialogue.

Types Of Questions

First, we need to review all the questions available to you. There are more than you might think, and each one has a specific use in conversation.

We’ll first look at those considered “open questions.” These are useful when you want to get a conversation started. Open questions often begin with the words “when,” “who,” “why,” “what” and “how.”

  • Problem solving. These questions are asked when you want ideas on which action to perform next. For example, “What do we do next?”.
  • Subjective questions. These questions are asked when you need an opinion on something. For example, “What did you think about that?”.
  • Objective questions. Ask these questions when you want to obtain specific information. For example, “What information did the teacher give you?”.

Next, let’s take a look at “closed questions.” This category of questions usually precedes a much shorter conversation, as it can usually be answered in only a few words. Closed questions may begin with words such as “do,“ “are,“ and “can.“ There are three distinct types of closed questions.

  • Yes/No questions. These questions are designed to be answered with a simple yes or no response. For example, “Did you go to the movies last night?”.
  • Selection questions. This type of question presents the other person in the conversation with a limited number of responses, and they are expected to select between them. For example, “Did you prefer the car or the truck?”.
  • Identification question. The person being talked to is expected to identify a person, place or thing. For example, “Who was that?”.

Just remember, open questions usually lead to longer conversations. Closed questions usually lead to answers which are short and to the point.

Ask The Right Question

Many times, a person will ask a closed question when they actually desire a longer answer. Or, if they’re in a hurry, they’ll end up asking an open question. Asking the wrong type of question can lead to frustration for all parties involved.

Make sure you consider what kind of answer you want before asking the question. This will lead to a better discussion, and you’ll be praised for being a good conversationalist.

Avoid Why

When possible, avoid asking too many question which start with “why.” Some people might feel like you’re being confrontational, and this can lead the conversation in a direction that nobody wants.

Follow Through

Don’t be content to accept the first answer given. If you’re looking for greater depth in the conversation, follow through with a series of other questions. If required, use a mix of both open and closed questions to get the information you desire.

Be A Good Listener

When you ask a question, be sure and allow the person to answer fully. If you jump in and interrupt them, they’ll be less likely to give a detailed response the next time.

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