The power of asking questions

October 13, 2020

Nowadays, most of our daily tasks are executed based on asking. We ask for information, exchange ideas, request for status updates and seek support. Yet, unlike other professionals who are already trained how to be a good questioner as an essential part of their career such as journalists or investigators, in this business world, especially in IT industry, questioning is one of the soft skills that need to be honed.

Asking questions – why should we master this art?

Questioning is a unique and powerful tool used to unlock hidden values in any organization. It stimulates learning and idea exchange, fuels innovation and accelerates performance improvement. In simple words, questions spark curiosity, curiosity helps generate good ideas and good ideas fuel innovation and creativity.

Moreover, asking questions also helps build rapport and trust among team members. Also, by questioning, we can uncover any unforeseen pitfalls so that business risks can be mitigated.

But, since good questions lead to good responses that are worth listening to and answers that contains valuable information, how the questions should be delivered, perfectly and ideally?

Tips to become a good questioner

For some people, questioning comes easily. Natural inquisitiveness, high EQ, and ability of reading minds, all these factors place the ideal question on the tip of people’s tongue. But often we lack the habit of asking questions, nor do we position them properly.

So, how to overcome this situation? Following and practicing these tips, you can turn yourself into good questioners:

Know what to ask: People usually face difficulty in fully conveying their idea into questions. Listing out all the information that you are seeking in case you miss out any points and arranging them logically is a useful tip to overcome this barrier. Also, knowing what to ask and what should be kept as private is key.

Use the right tone in the right context: Questioners should be aware of when and where to ask the right questions and what tone of voice should be used. In some cases, people are more forthcoming when being asked casually instead of a buttoned-up and official tone.

Keep it balanced: We should carefully determine the amount of questions that should be asked. A lack of questions might lead to a dead-end conversation. On the other hand, asking too much can be intimidating and the audience might feel like they are participating in an interrogation. Thus, we need to keep the number of questions balanced.

Be a good listener before you become a questioner: Asking follow-up questions is a powerful way to trigger interaction and build trust between a questioner and a responder, which leads to a productive conversation.

Follow-up questions signal to the conversation partner that you are actually listening, showing care and an interest in wanting to know more. This makes the responder feel that they are being heard and respected as well as open to discuss more.

Know when to keep questions open-ended: While the feeling of being interrogated is favored by no one, some questions can lead the conversation into that awkward yes-or-no situation. Thus, in these circumstances, open-ended questions can counteract that. They also play a vital role in uncovering hidden information or discovering something new that no one has thought of before.

For example, if you want to ask for someone to give feedbacks on your work, instead of luring them to dead end by asking “Is my piece of work good or not?”, you can warmly ask “What do you think about it? What are the things that I can do to improve this?”. By giving the answerer an open-ended question, you are giving them the freedom to express their ideas openly and honestly.

However, open-ended questions are not always the perfect cure as it’s not a good method to gather quantitative information and consume more time to answer compared to close-ended questions.

Overall, questioning is communication skill that everyone must hone. At NashTech, we encourage our Nashers to step out of their comfort zone and dare to ask questions. Because there is nothing wrong with questioning. By mastering the art of asking the questions, ideas are exchanged efficiently, performance is improved, innovation is fueled and success will definitely be achieved.