What Are Good Questions to Ask? Here Are My Top 10
Want to improve your performance? Become an expert at asking good questions. You'll stand out from your peers, I promise.
What are good questions to ask? You get an A+ for even asking this question. Too many people today forget to think about their questions before asking them.
My list below highlights the 10 best questions that I rely on daily. Some may not be in the form of a question, but they keep the other person talking. That is what you want when you ask questions. You want people to give you information, share insights, or unburden themselves.
And if you’re an introvert, you want the other person to keep talking so that you don’t have to. Right?
HOW CAN I HELP?
I frequently tell my dogs–it used to be my kids–“I’m here to serve.” My reality is that I enjoy helping people. That’s why I use “How can I help?” so much. It opens the door to let the other person know he/she isn’t alone. Whether it’s giving an elderly friend a ride or reaching out to someone in pain, “How can I help?” will make someone else–and probably you–feel better.
It’s also a great question to ask a coworker who is under job-related stress. If you help him out now, maybe he’ll return the favor when you need help.
IF I COULD WAVE MY MAGIC WAND . . .
I frequently use this question to get people thinking, to help them get out of whatever rut they’re in. The full question is: “If I could wave my magic wand, how would the situation be different?”
WOULD YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT . . .
When I don’t understand what someone is telling me, I ask, “Would you tell me more about what you’re thinking?” This gives me additional information that will hopefully get me on the same track as the other person. I usually shorten this to “Tell me more.”
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
This is a great way to open a conversation with someone you’ve just met or been introduced to. It gets the other person talking, and gives you a chance to listen for information for a follow-up question. Don’t overthink this; just do it.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
This simple question often leads to you getting to know someone at a deeper level than you did before asking it. The question “Why?” just by itself is one of the most powerful questions you can ask.
WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
Channel your inner 3-year-old. Use “Why?” five times to get to the heart of an issue. The first two or three times you ask someone “Why?”, they give you top of mind responses. The fourth and fifth time you ask “Why?” the other person has to really start thinking. That’s where the gold is buried.
HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH THIS SITUATION?
This question is perfect when coaching or mentoring someone before they start a project. Ask them this so you can hear what they’re thinking. As a supervisor, this gives you a chance to steer them in the right direction before they make a mistake.
WHAT DID YOU/WE LEARN?
Ask this question when you finish a project and want to reflect on what you might do differently the next time around. It’s called lessons learned or after action review. The point is to figure out what went well, what didn’t go well, and how you can do things better the next time. This is particularly important for a team that has finished a project. Take the time to debrief everyone so each of you is smarter next time.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
This version of the previous question is used with friends, families, and loved ones. It causes the other person to think and evaluate what happened. I use this question to evaluate whether I’m happy with the outcome of a dinner, a trip, or a vacation. We recently spent a week in Hilton Head in a fourth-floor condo with a balcony overlooking the beach. It was within walking distance of restaurants, bars, and a grocery store. The condo was spacious, and we got lots of rest. My verdict: I wouldn’t do anything differently.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I’m sure that when I was a young professional I probably never asked this question. I have no doubt I thought I knew more than I did and that it was my job to come up with a plan. Fortunately, life has taught me otherwise.
It’s OK–actually better than OK–to ask others what they are thinking about a situation you’re dealing with. You ask this question of someone you respect and someone with knowledge to give you a good response. You don’t necessarily need to act on their recommendation, but at least solicit it and consider it seriously.
© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com, 2018