How hard can it be to ask a simple question?
Believe it or not, the ability to ask clear, incisive questions is a learned skill and one that most people haven’t mastered. Don’t believe me? Think about what you’d ask the President if you got the chance to interview him. If you can’t get much farther than “What’s your favorite color,” you’ll appreciate how much skill goes into crafting quality questions.The good news is, everyone can learn to ask better questions. It only takes practice and a slight change in perspective. Asking clear questions can help you become the confident person you’ve always wanted to be.
Here are six mistakes people often make when asking questions (and how you can easily correct them).
1. Being indirect or talking around the question. While there is a chance that the person you are asking will suss your meaning and give you the answer you are hoping for, it’s far more effective, and less likely to be annoying, if you are straightforward.
For example: instead of asking your crush if they are going to the dance, ask, “Will you go to the dance with me?” Or instead of asking your friend if they’ve heard of the new movie that’s coming out ask them if they would like to go this coming Friday.
2. Being too apologetic about not knowing the answer already. Nobody knows all the answers and there is never any shame in asking. If you ask questions with confidence, you’ll come across much better than being meek or acting as if you’re wasting someone’s time. Most people enjoy talking about themselves and their interests and welcome questions which show a real interest.
3. Going too broad or not being specific enough. You’re more likely to get a useful answer if you’re question is pointed and gets to the heart of the matter.
4. Not doing a bit of research before asking. Of course, we’ve all heard the saying that there is no such thing as a stupid question, but the part that’s left out is that there is such a thing as a question that wastes everybody’s time. People’s time is precious, so don’t waste it by not acquainting yourself with background information relevant to the subject. You never know how many questions you’ll have time for, so skip to the ones which require the subject’s personal knowledge, experience and expertise.
5. Asking yes-or-no questions. Questions that can be answered with a yes or no do not lend well to further conversation. Choose questions that can lead down various paths, rather than ones which lead only to dead ends.
6. Not paying attention to the answer. There is no sense in asking questions if you don’t listen to the answer. Make note of it and make a conscious decision about what to do with the information you are given. If necessary, take notes about the answers you are given and do your best to commit them to memory.
The world belongs to those who not only know what and when to ask, but who to ask, to get the best information.
Meeting new people and gaining valuable insight not only adds to your valuable network of contacts, but will also give you more confidence – valuable assets for anyone looking to succeed.
There is a wealth of knowledge out there that can be yours, if you know how to ask.
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