How to Ask the Right Questions

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

It is known that one of the most essential elements in business and leadership is communication, but there is often an underrated but hugely important aspect of communication: questioning. In business anyway, we typically are not trained to put exceptional focus on questioning. If you retroactively look at your day to day interactions, you will come to realize how often you are asking questions. Being able to ask the right questions allows you to build a stronger bond with your employees and naturally improves your emotional intelligence, which then enables you to ask even better, more focused questions.

Not everyone has a knack for questioning, some people are inherently more inquisitive and instinctual than others. For most people, however, becoming a better questioner can be as simple as just asking more questions in general. A Harvard Business School study from 2018 found that some of the most common complaints after an interview or social gathering were “he/she didn’t ask enough questions.” Different things can stop us from asking questions like being scared of coming off rude, intrusive, or incompetent, but studies show that asking more questions typically leads to a stronger emotional connection with people.

Of course, the number of questions you ask is not the only thing that can improve your questioning. Understanding in what way you should be forming questions can go a long way. For one, listening astutely to the person you’re conversing with can help you form better follow-up questions. Building on this, it can be good to keep your questions somewhat open-ended. While open ended questions don’t work for every situation, it can help in newer relationships or at the beginning of a conversation. These sorts of questions allow others to feel more comfortable and not feel like your fishing for something or being nosey. In every type of question, it’s important to keep in mind your tone of voice. Particularly innocent questions can sometimes come off as rude or invasive, so keep the atmosphere of the situation and your tone of voice in mind at all times.

The right question can lead you to answers and relationships you never knew were possible. Even if you struggle to find the right way question, simply making the effort to ask shows that you are engaged and present. Take the time to evaluate how and how often you are asking questions as it may improve your communication skills greatly.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization