Effective communication is about asking the right questions. This way, you can get more accurate information which will enable you to make better decisions. Asking the right questions also allows you to manage people effectively and build healthier relationships.
The following are some questioning techniques you could consider using:
1. Funnel questions
This strategy involves asking a series of questions, starting from the general to more specific questions. Funnel questions are effective when trying to get details about a situation. For example, you could ask a customer the following questions when evaluating the quality of your customer care:
- ‘Have you ever called our technical support line?’
- ‘Who did you talk to?’
- ‘What was the attitude of the agent?’
- ‘Was your problem solved?’
2. Open and closed questions
Closed questions usually elicit short or single word answers. ‘What time is it?’ and ‘How old are you?’ are some examples of closed questions. Such questions are effective when making a decision or concluding a discussion. They are also useful when beginning a series of funnel questions.
Open questions attract longer answers. Besides questions, you could also use ‘describe’ or ‘tell me’ statements. The following are some examples:
- What happened at the party?
- Tell me about your family
- Why are you disappointed?
- Describe your experience with the client
Open questions are ideal when trying to get respondents to share their feelings, opinions or knowledge.
3. Probing questions
Probing questions are ideal when trying to get information out of evasive people. They are also useful when seeking full understanding about an issue. Here are some examples of probing questions:
- ‘What proof do you have that Susan stole the money?’
- ‘What exactly do you mean by value-added?’
- ‘Who exactly was supposed to oversee this project?’
4. Leading questions
Such questions are meant to influence the thinking of the respondent to your advantage. For example:
- ‘Davis is a very reliable employee, don’t you agree?’
- ‘The first option is better than the others, right?’
- ‘Would you like a product that solves all your skin problems?’
Leading questions influence people in your favor while leaving them convinced that they made the choice themselves. They are very effective especially when closing a sale.
5. Rhetorical questions
These are really not questions at all. Rather, they are more of statements which don’t necessarily require an answer. Rhetorical questions work well when trying to engage a listener. The following are some examples:
- ‘Isn’t Mary the best boss ever?’
- ‘Don’t you love how the office was designed?’
- ‘Wouldn’t you give anything to attend that seminar?’
Asking the right questions can help you learn new things, build strong relationships, persuade people, avoid misunderstandings and resolve conflicts. However, when asking questions, be sure to give the respondent enough time to respond. Questioning techniques should be accompanied with active listening skills. This will enable you to correctly interpret the answers. Finally, don’t forget to watch your body language or your non-verbal communication. Your facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures will all have an effect on how people respond to your questions.