Asking questions is essential for building healthy personal and professional relationships. Below are a few ways to ask better questions, both to get to know someone—and to ensure you understand their answer.
Eliminate Loaded Questions
Asking loaded questions might feel like we are trying to learn more, but carry the assumption (or decision) we have come to. For example, “Are you really going to waste your time taking guitar classes?” regardless of the answer, the way this question is phrased often puts the recipient on the defence. However, not all loaded questions are quite so offensive, but still assumptive. For example, “I saw that you bought the new iPhone. Do you really need all the latest trends?”
Asking open-ended questions gives the recipient the option of a bias-free response where they can answer honestly. It also keeps your mind open. Using the same examples above you might ask, “So you just signed up for guitar lessons? I’d love to hear more.” OR “What features do you like on the new iPhone?”
On the opposite end of open-ended questions are closed-ended questions that prompt only a “yes” or “no” response. The recipient could of course elaborate more, but may not. For example, “You signed up for guitar classes?” OR “You have the new iPhone?”
Reframing how you ask questions can rapidly improve your communication skills.