Questioning bridges the gap between mediocrity and excellence. So how do you ask questions to get the best outcomes?
Step number one is to start with listening first. The more you listen, the more you learn and have space to think about what to ask. Many in the professional setting are eager to please with their thoughts and having the stage, at the expense of their own questioning skills. The more you listen, the better position you have to be a top questioner.
Step two... know what kind of question you're asking. There are so many different types of questions with different objectives - seeking information, opinions, or advice. As you listen and think about which question you're going to ask, consider the objective of your question and what you're after.
Step three... actually getting to your question! A few things to keep in mind:
Make it clear. We have found that at times in an effort to impress others, professionals can ask questions that are confusing and convoluted. To where it leaves those in the meeting setting wondering what the hell was just asked. Make it clear with straight and plain language.
Lean into open-ended questions. The best questions are the ones that incite dialogue and thinking. Leaning into open-ended questions enable an environment that fosters conversation.
Be neutral and remove your bias. Questions should not be leading. Questions are intended to truly learn and expand the conversation and thinking in the room. They should not have a hidden agenda or bias either through the words you choose or tone of voice you lean into.
And above all else, remember to give thanks and praise when questions get answered. It's hard to see it happening, but questions expand the room and help ideas go from good to great!
Jaclyn and Laura