Key Steps to Master Asking the Right Questions

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Nils Boeffel shares a post that identifies how to ask the right questions to get the information you need. 

Many managers are confronted with complex decisions to make, and not enough time in which to make them. One way to help make better decisions more quickly is knowing how to ask questions that get to the core of the subject, and not just tiptoe around the edges.

Let’s look at an example. If you ask what your marketing budget is being spent on, and you get the answer “We’re spending X amount and have a market penetration of nearly 38%”, do you just have more facts to remember, or does that really help you make a decision and act on the information?

Odds are, it really doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help you understand if the money is well spent or not, and it surely doesn’t help you make any critical business decisions. So how do we ask the right questions, and how do we know when we’ve got a good and helpful answer?

A good question seeks to understand, and a good answer helps to decide.

How do you ask a good question?

Asking good questions gets you halfway to a good answer.

Don’t stop at fact-questions, ask knowledge questions: Consider the questions “What is our marketing budget” vs. “how well is our marketing budget being spent?” The first question will get you an answer, but the second will help you understand what the answer means and what is significant about it

Focus on the penetrating “why” and “how” questions instead of the simple fact-seeking “what”, “when” and “where” questions

Ask “why” five times: many people are afraid to dig deeper into an issue, and will only provide relevant information after some “digging”. You will be surprised where the answers lead when you keep digging.

 

Key points include:

  • Ask knowledge questions
  • How do you know you’ve got a good answer?
  • Getting to the bottom of the real issues

 

Read the full article, How to Ask the Right Questions, on NilsBoeffel.com.