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How to ask the right question

No one has all the answers. That means that asking the right questions is one of the most important skills you can master, whether you’re talking to employees, friends or children. Questions should be short, simple and concise-easy to understand and think about. To use questions effectively though, you must know what kinds of questions to ask. Choose from among these categories:

Factual – “What did you have for lunch?” or “What is 357 times 62?”. Some questions have only one correct answer-a truth that can be objectively confirmed.

Interpretative – “What does that painting look like? Even if a question has more than one correct answer, an interpretative question calls for evidence, some kind of supporting material that others can validate.

Evaluative – “Do you like chicken parmesan?” Questions regarding opinions or beliefs have no correct or incorrect answers, but they can tell you a lot about the other person’s point of view.

Empowering – “What would you do about Sarah’s problem?” Sometimes you want to urge someone to action, without directly  telling him or her what to do. In these cases, ask questions to show you’re interested in the other person’s ideas and trust his or hers judgment.

Broad vs focused – The above questions  can be asked in different ways, depending on whether you want a lot of information or a single answer.” How many different animals could that painting look like?” vs ” What specific animal does that painting do you see?” Think before you ask, so you don’t have too backtrack.

Follow-up – “What do you mean by that?” This is one of the best questions you can as in any category, because it asks the person to think more deeply and share more information.

Remember, Don’t be a victim!

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