Learning to ask questions correctly: rules for asking questions

Common questions

By asking, we want to receive information that confirms our vision of the world, our perception of the situation, our “map of the world.”

If someone does something that seems very strange to us, we immediately ask, “Why are you doing that? What's gotten into you? And he will be forced to justify himself and explain himself. Because we want to understand him! We want to understand what he did, but in our coordinate system. Because we limit the questions we ask to 15% of their total variety.

Let's talk today about the remaining 85%, which we usually don't touch. And also about questionology - the art and science of asking questions.

What are the main mistakes made when creating questions?

  1. The proposal is formulated in such a way that it contains the answer in advance. This tactic will be justified only if the proposal contains the answer you need. But in fact, such a technique is manipulation, so getting a person’s personal opinion here will be much more difficult, because it is easier for him to agree with you.
  2. Constantly using only closed questions. You yourself can block the way for a person to develop his thoughts and give out as much information as possible. This is far from the best strategy, and, as a rule, it gives poor results.
  3. Creating pressure on the question that is being asked. Here we can talk about raising one’s voice or putting moral pressure on one’s opponent. This is used only if it is necessary for the interlocutor to admit guilt. Naturally, making a certain type of defense, he will agree with the assumption that you expressed.
  4. Don't understand the answer, but pretend that everything is clear. The only ambiguity that follows from this is why it was necessary to ask the question if the answer was not understood. It is better to repeat the information two or three times and reformulate the question completely. This is the only way to understand what kind of answer was intended by the person with whom you are communicating.

By focusing on the above rules and methods, you can easily get the necessary answers, which a person will give consciously and without any difficulties. Naturally, if you have a fairly serious conversation or interview, it is advisable to practice creating the right questions and conduct a training dialogue. This way you can rehearse the acquired skills and communicate without fear with the person from whom you need to obtain information.

Socratic technique

There is a technique that allows you to expand questions.

The first who long ago understood the need to change traditional questions was Socrates. For example, if one of his students complained about injustice, Socrates did not ask him: “Why are you complaining about injustice?” Recognize that answering this question will not advance the debate much. Socrates asked: “What assumption have you made to conclude from it that this is unjust?”

See how the focus is shifting? This time the student thinks about how his own inferences function. By asking this question, Socrates allows us to think about his way of thinking, that is, reflecting. And on top of that, he asked the student to determine what his “world map” consists of.

The purpose of Socrates' questions is to make the student think, teaching him a lesson through it. A brilliant idea, I must say.

Communicative communication involves the ability to correctly pose questions

Questions are a way to get the information you need and to direct the conversation in the right direction.
Questions enable us to discover what interests us most. A well-posed question, in addition to providing you with the required information, will allow you to avoid conflict situations and missteps.

It doesn’t matter who you are: a manager, a basketball coach, a psychologist, you will definitely need the ability to correctly pose a question.

The right questions allow you to:

  • Show interest in your opponent;
  • Demonstrate your value system, which will be understandable to the interlocutor, and learn about his values;
  • Get the necessary information, show that you can devote sufficient time to talk;
  • Take the initiative and control the flow of the conversation;
  • Change the topic of conversation;

If you want to hear a smart answer, ask smartly

Aristotle's Lyceum

Aristotle, another philosopher, went even further. He built the first lyceum in Athens on this principle: asking questions to make you think - this was the principle of the learning process there.

What is the situation with lyceums in the 21st century? Questions are used in abundance. But only in order to evaluate the student, who must reproduce everything that was told to him. He is asked one question and expected one specific answer. Which is also known in advance! In fact, this should be called interrogation. To teach and then question - this is the essence of a modern lyceum. A huge difference from the Socratic project. But we were taught that way too.

Checking IQ: smart questions for a girl without a hint of tediousness

How can you understand that a new acquaintance is not only beautiful, but also at least not stupid? You shouldn't take an IQ test before asking your friend out on a date! It is enough to ask a girl interesting questions from the proposed list - and you will immediately understand how educated she is.

1. What was the last book you read? Share your impressions.

2. What would you like to learn, but haven’t found the time yet?

3. What do you prefer - cartoon, film or TV?

4. Make a list of three famous people you would like to invite to dinner.

5. How many clubs did you attend as a child? Which ones were the most useful?

6. What do you do best?

7. Were you a diligent student or a hooligan girl?

8. Which historical era do you find most attractive to live in? Why?

9. What does your dream career look like? What efforts are you making to implement it?

10. Make a list of five cities and countries that you dream of visiting. Why?

11. How do you spend your free time - with a book, tablet or people?

12. What is the most important thing in communicating with colleagues?

13. What hobbies take up most of your time?

14. Are there any hobbies in your life that have been preserved since childhood?

15. How often do you watch news sites? Which sections do you pay the most attention to?

16. If you were offered to compete for the Nobel Prize, which field would you prefer?

17. Give an example of an inspiring quote from a successful person you admire.

18. Which literary genre do you like best?

19. Name your favorite writer and his works.

20. What TV series did you watch last?

21. What mark would you like to leave behind?

22. Name at least 5 reasons that make you go to work/school every morning.

23. What would you not do even for a very large salary?

24. Do you think you chose the right profession? Are you ready to devote the rest of your career to her?

25. Do you have a humanitarian or technical mind? Which school subjects were easier for you?

26. Which of your friends do you consider the smartest?

27. How many books have you read in the last year?

28. Imagine that you need to give a half-hour report without preparation. Which topic/field will you choose?

29. If you became the president of the country, what decree would you sign first?

30. What piece of art evokes mixed emotions in you?

31. Do you like speaking in front of an audience?

32. What competition was the most important for you in your life? Were you successful?

33. What new skill have you learned over the past year?

34. Which part of the country's cultural heritage are you proud of?

35. What achievement was the most significant for you, even if others did not appreciate it?

36. Which decade's fashion would you like to bring back?

37. What do you think is the main drawback of the current education system?

38. What missed opportunities do you regret now?

39. If you could spread only one idea around the world, what would you like to convey to people?

40. Which non-standard monument seems most positive to you?

41. What do you think, which things from modern use will become antiques after a few centuries, and which ones will turn into dust?

42. What is the main difference between generations for you?

43. What job do you think will not be replaced by artificial intelligence for at least the next 50 years?

44. What outdated traditions do you still follow, even though they seem pointless to others?

45. What is the most significant lesson you learned from a work of literature?

46. ​​What is more important to you – education, career or emotional balance?

47. What startup might interest you?

48. How many hours a day do you spend on work/study?

49. What profession do you think could appear in the near future that no one knows about yet?

50. What modern trend would you like to continue for the coming decades?

Why ask questions at all?

We ask questions to find out what is happening around us, but not in order to learn something fundamentally new - to only confirm and strengthen the already existing “map of the world.”

You can say that the system works well - why ask any other questions? Einstein said this: “If I have 1 hour to solve a problem on which my life depends, I will spend the first 55 minutes searching for the best question I can ask myself. When I find it, it will take me 5 minutes to answer it correctly.”

Donskoy Consulting Group

How to ask questions effectively?

Have you ever wondered what a powerful weapon the right questions can be? A question can direct the interlocutor’s thoughts in the right direction, or vice versa – lead away from the topic of conversation. A question can confuse or give confidence. The art of asking and getting the answers you need can be a sales manager's ace in the hole, but it can also help in ordinary life situations. Let's figure out how to ask questions effectively.

Closed questions

Closed questions are structured in such a way that the interlocutor’s choice of possible answers is limited to two words: “Yes” or “No.” They significantly narrow his “room for maneuver.” Closed questions are good in all cases when we simply need to get an affirmative answer or establish specific facts in order to adjust our further actions in the communication process.

Examples of closed questions:

  • Are you satisfied (suits you, do you like) my proposal?
  • Perhaps you need more information?
  • May I consider that I have cleared your doubts?

You can ask a closed question to your interlocutor if:

  • your interlocutor behaves with restraint and avoids active communication;
  • you need to get a short and unambiguous answer from him;
  • you want to quickly check his attitude towards something;
  • you are sure that by asking a series of closed questions you will receive the necessary information;
  • you want to make sure you understand the other person correctly.

Closed questions can also be used to stimulate positive responses from the interlocutor by appealing to generally accepted values. For example: “Is product quality important to you?”, “Do you like working with a reliable supplier?”, “Would you like to have reliable guarantees?” This technique is useful if the interlocutor is negative, has doubts, or simply does not have enough information to make a decision.

You should remember that in some cases closed questions can “strain” the interlocutor, as they impose additional obligations on him. And who will like it?

A situation that is probably familiar to anyone who has ever walked through a shopping center or store, when, upon entering the sales department, a smiling and “trained” salesperson asks: “Can I help you with anything?” This is a “forbidden” question, because help should only be offered to sick people, but we all consider ourselves healthy. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the person asking this question will hear the answer: “No.”

There are a lot of “stupid” closed-ended questions with predictable answers. Here are just a few of them:

  • Are you interested in anything? Can you help me choose? Any advice? The guaranteed answer to these and similar questions is “No.” And you can also hear: “Help! Money"; "With a kind word"; “Hold the bags.”
  • Do you have 5 minutes to talk to me? The question to which we will most often hear the answer is: “No”; "Not now"; "Later"; "Let's do it tomorrow"; “Sorry, I don’t have time”; “It will never happen,” etc.
  • Are you busy now? In most cases, of course: “Yes.”

Tail questions are a type of closed question. These questions guarantee a “Yes” answer, since they assume a programmed answer from the interlocutor in the direction you want. The “tail” can be the following phrases: “Isn’t it true?”; "Is not it?"; "Is it true?"; “Do you agree with me?”; "Right?"; "It is so?". Examples:

  • Everyone wants to live happily ever after, do you agree with me?
  • Nobody wants to overpay, right?
  • You are interested in purchasing a quality product, aren’t you?

In conclusion, I note that very often, in addition to the answers “Yes” and “No,” people answer closed questions: “Maybe”; "Let's see"; “We need to think,” etc. Psychologically, we perceive such answers as positive. After all, you really want to believe in good things. Being “young”, I often fell for this bait. The client only said that he “maybe” would cooperate with our company. In fact, he promised nothing and did not undertake any obligations. He needed time to “think”, and he easily said: “Maybe.” And you already begin to live with the feeling that everything has been decided. The client is yours. A day passes, a week passes. You begin to slowly get angry with the client for not calling for a long time. And when you finally call back yourself, you find out that other consultants will make money from the client.

Alternative questions

Alternative questions provide the so-called “choice without choice” and suggest several (usually two) possible answers from the interlocutor, each of which suits us. These questions require a quick decision on the part of your interlocutor. Moreover, the conjunction “or” is most often the main component of such a question.

Examples of alternative questions:

  • Is a trip to Thailand or Egypt more interesting for you?
  • Is morning or evening delivery convenient for you?
  • Will we meet on Monday or Thursday?

By asking alternative questions, we focus the interlocutor’s attention on the proposed options. This simplifies his decision-making and facilitates the selection process.

An alternative question you can ask your interlocutor:

  • when summing up intermediate and final results;
  • when discussing plans for subsequent interaction;
  • to motivate indecisive interlocutors to make a decision;
  • in order to reassure the interlocutor and allow him to choose the “optimal” option for further actions.

It should be remembered that the alternative question is itself a manipulation. Therefore, when talking with your interlocutor, use only one. A series of similar questions, for example: “Will we meet in the first or second half of the week?”; “What about Thursday or Friday?”; “And in the first or second half of Wednesday?” etc. It will cause nothing but increasing irritation in your counterpart and most likely the answer will be that he will call you back somehow.

When you ask your interlocutor alternative questions, you have no guarantee that he will be satisfied with the choice provided and will not offer in response a “third” option that no longer suits you. For example:

  • Should I call you back in the morning or afternoon? Answer: "At night."
  • Will we meet on Thursday or Friday? Answer: "Early Sunday morning."
  • Will you pay in cash or on credit? Answers: “Better at your expense. I will accept it as a gift."
Suggestive questions

Leading questions are deliberately constructed in such a way that your interlocutor, when answering them, agrees with the statement you are voicing. Usually attempts are made to somewhat veil it so that the interlocutor does not understand that he is being pressured.

Leading questions are distinguished by a special interrogative intonation and usually include the following words: “of course,” “certainly,” “unambiguously,” “too,” “also,” “after all,” “surely,” etc.

Examples of leading questions:

  • Of course, you will agree that...?
  • You probably want to...?
  • Surely you are striving for...?

It is recommended to use a leading question only if absolutely necessary:

  • when summing up a conversation, when the interlocutor will probably give an affirmative answer;
  • in the case when we want to return the talkative interlocutor to the topic under discussion;
  • if our interlocutor is a doubtful and indecisive person.

When asking leading questions, be sure to address your interlocutor by name. However, in other cases it will be useful. Our own name is one of the most affectionate words that each of us hears from early childhood.

Leading questions sound extremely intrusive. They almost force the other person to admit that you are right. Therefore, use this type of question very carefully. Remember that the question you ask should evoke a positive reaction from the interlocutor.

Clarifying questions

Clarifying, or, as they are also called, semi-open questions, assume that the interlocutor will give short and concise answers. They should only be asked if you missed or misunderstood something the other person said or if you have doubts whether he understands you.

Clarifying questions help:

  • obtain specific information;
  • clarify the desires and intentions of the interlocutor;
  • induce him to perform a certain action.

Clarifying questions include the following words and expressions: “Do I understand correctly...”; “So what you're saying is...”; "You mean…"; "Do you think…"; “In other words, you believe...” , etc.

Examples of clarifying (half-open) questions:

  • "Why?" One of the universal clarifying questions successfully used by children.
  • “Do I understand correctly that you are interested in the level of service?”
  • “In other words, you would prefer to go to Lapland. Did I understand you correctly?"

When communicating, paraphrase your interlocutor’s statements and clarify whether we understand him correctly. He will confirm or refute our doubts and provide additional information. By doing this, we are likely to give the impression of a person who strives to thoroughly understand the issue under discussion and focus on important points in the conversation.

Open questions

Open questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” They are aimed at receiving detailed information from the interlocutor and, as a rule, begin with the words: “What?”; "Who?"; "How?"; "When?"; "Where?"; "How many?"; "Which?".

Examples of open questions:

  • What experiences do you expect from your upcoming vacation?
  • What is most important to you when choosing a new supplier?
  • When will you be ready to present the results of your work?

Advantages of open questions:

  • encourage the interlocutor to answer;
  • stimulate thinking, analysis, putting forward new judgments and ideas;
  • give you the opportunity to openly express your own opinion.

Disadvantages of open questions:

  • can provoke an extensive and detailed response, which is not always acceptable in conditions of limited time;
  • may cause a confusing and chaotic response that is difficult to understand;
  • capable of confusing an insecure interlocutor;
  • involve asking clarifying questions. Interrupting your interlocutor can offend him and lead to difficulties in further communication.

It is naive to believe that, having heard open questions, our interlocutor will definitely turn on all his eloquence and give complete and detailed answers to them. No matter how it is. As is the question, so may be the answer. Sometimes, when you hear a question that begins with “how ,” you immediately want to rhyme “no way” . “When” suggests the continuation of “never” . “How much” easily turns into “not at all” , and into “as much” , and into the counter question: “How much do you need?” “Where” is found “in Karaganda”. “From where ,” well, of course, either in Nikulin’s “from there” or “from the camel . And to the “why”, folk wisdom immediately suggests “yes, by the way.”

I will give some more options for my “harmful” answers to open questions, which successfully allow you to confuse your interlocutor and seize the initiative in a conversation:

  • "What are you interested in?" Answers: “Only you”; "Nothing".
  • “How can I introduce you?” Answers: “Middle-aged man”; "In the shower"; "Next to you"; "On myself"; "With flowers"; “Introduce me as you like,” etc.
  • “Why are you telling me this?” Answer: “By phone.”

Remember that open-ended questions give the interlocutor the opportunity to avoid a specific answer, provide only information that is beneficial to him, mislead you, and even divert the conversation away from the topic under discussion.

"Question everything"

This message is also great because it shows how a genius carries out his research. It is more about questioning than seeking answers. If he had asked himself the traditional question beginning with the word “why” (“Why are the movements of celestial bodies not explained by modern theories?”), he would not have advanced physics as much as he did. Instead, he most likely asked the Socratic question: “What modern hypotheses can be proposed to explain the celestial movements?” That is, the revolutionary nature of his contribution lies in the fact that he proposed to change existing hypotheses. He suggested that time and space are impermanent. A revolutionary idea that changes the “map of the world” in physics. As you can see, asking questions is very important.

Non-standard questions for a girl that can confuse you

Do you like everything strange and inexplicable? Or maybe you want to give the impression of an extraordinary and unpredictable personality? Ask your girl unusual questions from our list - with their help you are guaranteed to get the title of a creative guy and, moreover, you will test your friend’s sense of humor and imagination.

1. Imagine that there are a couple more hours in the day. How will you spend your free time?

2. Which book or movie character is most like you?

3. If you found Aladdin's lamp, what three wishes would you make for him?

4. There is only one year left before the apocalypse. What will you do?

5. Is there a place on the planet where you feel at home?

6. How does your day begin and how does it end?

7. If people were given superpowers, which one would you line up for?

8. If you were offered to change your name, what would you choose?

9. What childhood nickname did you dislike the most?

10. The gift you've always dreamed of is...?

11. What role would you most easily play in Hollywood?

12. If you could change places with a celebrity, whose life would you try on?

13. What actions would you do as a man?

14. How superstitious are you? And what do karma, fate and omens mean to you?

15. Imagine that the planet is inhabited by zombies and other monsters. What lengths will you go to to survive?

16. If you could only take one thing to a desert island, what would it be?

17. You won a billion dollars in the lottery. What will you spend it on?

18. If you could change one day or event, what would you choose?

19. Which animal could you trade places with for one day?

20. Name the most unexpected and happiest event in your life.

21. How do you feel about surprises and practical jokes?

22. Would you like to have psychic abilities?

23. If you like a man on the street, will you approach him to get to know him?

24. What will a children's ice cream truck sell in adulthood - alcoholic cocktails, sweets or fast food?

25. What do you think every person should do at least once in their life?

26. Imagine that you are suddenly transported 100 years into the future. What is one question you would like to ask people from the future?

27. What action would you like to do if you were sure that no one would ever know about it?

28. Is walking in the pouring rain gross, romantic or fun?

29. Have you ever spied on strangers or neighbors?

30. Do you believe in the existence of UFOs?

31. Do you think there is life after death?

32. What is your wildest fantasy that haunts you?

33. If a crew of tourists were recruited for free on a spaceship, would you want to be among them?

34. What would you like to be in your next life?

35. Imagine that a magic invisible hat has appeared in your wardrobe. How will you use it?

36. Could you go to the store or park in pajamas and slippers?

37. If there were superheroes and supervillains in the world, which team would you join?

38. Does the possibility of endless life tempt you?

39. What fairytale item is vital for you?

40. Name 5 accessories you can’t imagine without.

41. What is something that was crazy 10 years ago that seems quite ordinary to you today?

42. If you had the opportunity to do something great to solve one global problem in the world, which one would you choose?

43. When applying for a job, what social benefit seems most preferable to you - a long vacation, paid lunches, a corporate gym, or something else?

44. Do you think that a name influences personality? Give examples.

45. Could you fall in love with a virtual interlocutor whom you have never met?

46. ​​If everyone had a special badge with a mini-warning, what would yours say?

47. What will the trailer for the film about your life look like?

48. If you were tasked with creating a new sport, what would you pay attention to first?

49. Imagine that the country will lose access to the Internet in 3 hours. How will you spend your last hours online?

50. You inherited a huge piece of land that cannot be sold or rented out. How will you use it?

Coaching Example

To better understand how questionology works, I propose to consider the example of coaching a teenager.

Teenager: “I work very hard, participate in class, stay attentive, do all my homework, spend a lot of time on it. But as soon as I find myself on a test, everything disappears from my mind, it’s like I’m in a stupor.”

You see, this teenager is already extremely active. He is the actor in his situation. He works, he listens to explanations in class, he participates in the lesson, he looks for answers when he is called on.

If I ask the question: “Why do you get stuck on a test?” - it won't help him. Because he is already the main character in it, and I will ask him to remain in this role.

Instead, I will suggest that he change his position. I suggest you first feel what is happening. And then step back from the situation and observe from the outside what he is doing.

Coach: “When you get stuck on a test, how do you feel?”

Teenager: “I have a great fear of failing a test. And this prevents me from moving on."

Coach: “What are you afraid of when you’re afraid of failing a test?”

Teenager: “Well, if I get bad grades, I think it will prevent me from choosing what I want to do in life later.”

Do you see? A simple change of position regarding the object of the question allows this teenager to become aware of his “map of the world.” And the question that forces you to step away from the situation is not as difficult to formulate as it seems. It is enough to repeat the verb twice: “What are you afraid of when you are afraid of a test?” And the teenager suddenly realizes that for him the point of the test is to ultimately be able to choose a career.

You can practice detaching yourself from the object of any question by repeating the verb. And it works every time.

When we have realized what our “world map” looks like in a particular place, we can offer various other possibilities, new directions.

To do this, you need to offer other mental gestures.

Until this moment, he used the description of what was happening to him. I will offer him a mental gesture, which consists of bringing two different elements together.

Coach: “Does this mean that a bad grade on a test will prevent you from choosing a profession later?”

Teenager (after some thought): “Well, actually, no. Just because of one test, I won’t have any problems choosing a career direction.”

After this mental gesture, I offered him another one. It will put him in an interesting situation.

Coach: “Okay. If you don't write a test, what's the worst thing that will happen to you?”

Teenager: “I’ll have to rewrite it and be more careful.”

As you can see, by offering him different mental gestures and positions, we multiply the possibilities, whatever the subject of the question.

How to ask a question and get an answer - 7 rules

There are several rules for asking questions.

Human level.

Questions should be appropriate to the level of knowledge of your interlocutor. You should not ask too primitive, but also not too complex questions. Each person has an individual level that should be approached from different angles. If your questions are appropriate to the person's level, the interlocutor will not feel that you underestimate him.

Structured questioning.

One topic should contain no more than 3 theses, closely related to each other (a person is not able to process more). Each new question should flow smoothly from the previous one. The logic of asking questions is very important in order to lead the conversation in the direction you want.

Brevity and conciseness

Try to keep it to one simple sentence. By stretching out a question, you risk going off topic and making it difficult for your interlocutor to formulate an answer, as well as losing the very essence of the conversation. If you can't fit it into one sentence, give some background and then ask a simple question.

Listening skills

People won't hear your questions if you don't listen to your interlocutors. We have already talked a lot about the ability to listen, the benefits of such a skill can hardly be overestimated. Listen carefully to understand the answer as clearly as possible and find reasons for clarifying questions.

Accusations in questions

A common mistake in communication is hidden accusations in questions. If you are unhappy with something, it is better to say it directly in an affirmative form. Questions are used for completely different purposes.

Get ready

Each conversation has its own topic, the essence of the problem, to which you can select appropriate questions. If you have a meeting or interview, prepare initial questions in advance. Next, act based on your interlocutor’s answers.

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