How to ask good questions that get you what you want
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“How to ask questions to get information examples” is a blog that discusses how to ask good questions. It discusses the importance of asking good questions, and how being able to ask good questions is important for learning. Read more in detail here: how to ask questions to get information examples.
Tony Valdes contributes this guest article as an editor’s note.
As we near the end of this series on listening (parts 1 and 2), we should think about a few things in terms of the shift from listener to speaker. When the moment comes for the roles to change, we will most likely respond to others’ messages by asking questions, agreeing, disagreeing, or qualifying them. The first and final things on the list are the ones we’ll look at here.
Questions to Ponder
When we ask questions, we are not only demonstrating that we are paying attention, but we are also assisting the speaker in successfully communicating with us. The ability to ask appropriate questions aids learning and might even provide social benefits.
Many different types of questions may be asked. Some are simple, while others put a lot of pressure on both the questioner and the person being questioned. Bloom’s Taxonomy will be a useful lens to see things with as we explore how to ask intelligent, productive inquiries. It provides six stages of thought, beginning with the simplest and progressing to “higher order thinking.” The levels are as follows, beginning with the most basic:
- Expertise (building awareness of a topic)
- Understanding (understanding a topic)
- Utilization (knowledge and comprehension put to practical use)
- Analysis (how the topic “functions” and/or interacts with other subjects)
- synthesizing (combining knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis of multiple topics together)
- Observation (judging the value of a topic)
Higher-order inquiries, including analysis, synthesis, and assessment, are not only more difficult to formulate, but also to answer. Knowing where each of these levels falls on the difficulty scale helps us to pinpoint where any given question belongs. Don’t feel obligated to work only from higher-level questions. There’s nothing wrong with asking fundamental questions; they’re the foundation of critical thinking and everyday existence. A healthy balance is the key, as it is with most things.
On the same note, don’t feel compelled to inquire about everything. We may think about it in the same way we think of food: we need to eat, but not all of the time. We get to pick when we eat and when we don’t. The same may be said of inquiries. Please use caution. When is a question legitimate, and when is it merely a filler (or a means to make oneself seem smart)?
Templates for questions
When I educate my students about the finer features of discourse, I provide them a set of templates they may use (or alter) as they try to develop their writing style and voice. The templates are similar to training wheels on a bicycle: once you understand how to do something, you don’t need them anymore, but having them handy while you’re learning is helpful.
The same idea may be used to us as we improve our questioning skills. The templates below show us how to create questions with a range of aims, from basic explanation to asking questions about questions. Reading through the templates a few times will help you come up with useful questions to think about while someone is speaking, keep you more interested while you listen, and offer material for questions to ask aloud when appropriate. You’ll see that these question templates put a lot of what we just spoke about with Bloom’s Taxonomy to use.
I can’t claim credit for creating the following templates, and I have no clue who came up with them in the first place; I guess it was something I scribbled down or photocopied during graduate school, but the original author has been lost to time.
These are “fundamental” inquiries that assist us understand what we’re talking about.
- What does he/she mean when he/she says ?
- What is the central theme of ?
- What is the relationship between and ?
- Is he/she referring to or ?
- Could you please provide me with an example of ?
- Is a good example of ?
- What does he/she mean when he/she says that?
Reasoning and Evidence-Based Questions
These are more in-depth inquiries into why certain things are stated or done.
- How did you come to know ?
- Why do you believe is correct?
- Is there any proof that ?
- Is there any proof that is true?
- What is the significance of ?
- What motivates him/her to say ?
- Are the justifications for sufficient?
- Why did he/she believe ?
- What does have to do with ?
- Is there any reason to be skeptical about ?
- Who could vouch for the fact that is correct?
- Is it possible for someone else to provide evidence to support the idea that ?
These are more difficult questions that focus on the implication (things not being said directly).
- What is it that he/she is assuming?
- His/her whole argument is based on the assumption that . Why does he/she base his/her thinking on rather than ?
- He/she seems to believe . What’s the logic behind that assumption?
- Why would someone make such a leap of faith?
Viewpoints and Perspectives Questions
These are more in-depth inquiries on worldviews and beliefs.
- What does the term mean?
- Is he/she indicating when he/she says ?
- What other things would happen if happened? Why?
- What would be the impact of on ?
- What else might be true if and are true?
- Is it true that if we claim is correct, then is correct as well?
- How do you think would react to this situation?
- What would you say in response to ‘s objection?
- What are the similarities and differences between ‘s and ‘s ideas? What distinguishes them?
- What is the relationship between and the Bible?
Implications and Consequences-Related Questions
These are more difficult problems involving cause and effect links.
- What would be the impact of ?
- Is it possible that will occur?
- Is there a substitute for ?
- What other things would happen if happened? Why?
- When does become excessive?
Concerns regarding Concerns
These are questions that help us assess the questions we’re asking.
- Is it possible to break down this question in any way?
- Is it obvious what you’re asking? Do we comprehend it?
- Is this a question that requires us to assess something? What?
- Do we all agree that the question’s core is ?
- What additional questions must be answered before you can answer this one?
- Is it simple or difficult to answer this question? Why?
- What is the significance of this question?
- Is there any way that this inquiry might lead to other critical concerns or questions?
Keep in mind that they may be tweaked to match varied scenarios and, of course, your own style, which is the beauty of using templates.
Questions Have Social Benefits
Questions aren’t required to be used just for clarification. The saying that a person’s favorite topic is himself has a lot of merit. Asking questions may serve as a means of clarification, education, or just as a useful social skill. People like talking about themselves, and asking questions is an excellent approach to demonstrate interest and form new connections. When you ask questions, most individuals (unless they exhibit conversational narcissism) will soon see how one-sided things are and will automatically extend the speaker role to you so you may have a turn. They have a desire to (and a good example of how to) offer you the same civility since you have played the gentleman. They’ll pay closer attention and, more than likely, ask questions in the same way you did.
What Does It Mean to Be Qualified?
When it comes to asking questions, it will be a highly fluid, dynamic process in which the roles of speaker and listener will alternate often. However, you will be asked to agree, disagree, or qualify on the topic at hand, whether it is as complex as philosophy or as simple as where to have lunch, at some point throughout the discussion. While agreeing and disagreeing are simple, qualification allows us to respond to a speaker in a more complex way.
When we qualify, we are acknowledging a distinction. For example, you may agree that the public education system needs dramatic reform but disagree with the present measures in place to attain that aim. It’s comforting to know that we have the ability to qualify, particularly if we’re worried that listening equates total agreement.
The Rogerian Method of reasoning, which I briefly addressed in the first chapter of this series, is similarly based on qualification. It will be beneficial to expand on it immediately. The Rogerian Method encourages us to see the individual with whom we’re discussing (or speaking) as a “fellow” rather than a “opponent.” Simply said, start by respecting the other person and their point of view. The Rogerian Method then demands us to listen carefully to what the other is saying, which, as we’ve seen, takes a lot of work on our side. Our transformation from listener to speaker starts with the following phase in the process. We need to make sure we’ve comprehended what the other person has stated, which we may do by restating the main idea(s) or asking clarifying questions. Then, if at all feasible, we’d want to strike up a conversation with this “fellow” (remember, this is assuming that you have differing viewpoints and wish to persuade the other person towards your way of thinking). Finding this common ground is an important step; it is a point on the issue that you can both agree on. This may then be utilized to launch into the persuasion portion of your answer. Starting from a place where everyone agrees will make your colleague feel less defensive, and your qualification–the point(s) on which you disagree–will seem somewhat less strange, making the benefits of your position simpler to understand and (hopefully) accept.
When it comes to responding, there is a golden rule.
Whether we’re asking questions, agreeing, disagreeing, or qualifying, the value of respect and sensitivity in our replies cannot be stressed. We don’t have to resort to unpleasant or aggressive reactions as guys. Boorish conduct may negate even the finest listening and destroy the conversation. You put in a lot of effort as a listener, and you put in just as much effort in your insightful comments to others. And, although most conversations need some kind of vocal or nonverbal reaction, we may always choose not to answer (or to respond very slightly) as common sense and prudence suggest; if we can’t show respect, it’s best to stand aside and maintain a dignified quiet.
Lastly, I’d want to express my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to
Listening has the power to transform our life. Learning how to do it correctly is an important step in our quest to become better men. Although the strategies we’ve looked at thus far are reasonably self-explanatory, that doesn’t imply they’re simple. Consider the following verbs: hearing, attending, focusing, understanding, remembering, interpreting, re-creating, retaining, thinking, and reacting (or choosing to not respond). That’s a significant amount of effort. Another way to think about it is to expect that you will have to put in 51 percent of the work in the discussion as a listener.
Isn’t it easier said than done? There’s a large list of active measures we can take to break old habits and form new ones. However, Rome was not built in a day, as the phrase goes. We’ve had terrible habits for much of our lives; healthy habits will not appear quickly. It will take time and effort, and just like learning a new skill, there will be moments when we slip back into old patterns. Select a few of these areas to concentrate on over the next several weeks, and after you’ve mastered them, add a few more, and so on. A whole new universe will open up to you before you realize it. And, let’s face it, there will be certain folks that we just cannot stand listening to. Despite this, if we’re prepared to commit to actually paying attention to others around us, we can improve and enjoy the advantages.
Pay attention! Part 1 of the series: Mastering the Manly Skill of Paying Attention Part 2: 15 Ways to Improve Our Listening Skills Part III: How to Ask and Answer Good Questions
Listen to our podcast with renowned TED speaker Julian Treasure for additional advice on how to become a better listener (and speaker):
The “probing questions” are a good way to start conversations. The probing question is asking the person you are talking to what they think about something. It’s best to ask probing questions when you don’t know much about the other person, so that you can learn more about them and their interests.
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