In the language of computers, if you key in the wrong information or data, you would get the wrong information out. This same premise is true for the aspect of communication as well. You gather wrong answers from wrong questions. So, how do you make it a point to elicit the correct responses with the proper information from others? The answer is simply to ask the right kind of questions.
We say that questioning is one of the major tools in communication but asking the right questions is the ingredient of effective communication. Apart from this skill, we can develop other essential skills such as effective people management, interpersonal skills, and the ability to acquire better information or your learning skills. In order to ask the right questions, we may apply certain techniques in our way of questioning. However, knowing when, and when not to use them, in the conversation is also an important consideration.
Various Questioning Technique
There are many different questioning techniques we can possibly employ in our interaction with others. A very simple and common method is the YES/NO or closed ended question, and open ended question.
Closed ended questions are used to test a listener’s understanding as well as in wrapping up a discussion or when making decisions. Open questions pave way for a more open conversation and seek for more details.
Funnel questioning technique is best applicable in sales wherein the questioner starts from a broad or general approach and goes detailed in the process. Closed questions make a good start for this technique. Probing is another method in searching for more information. It helps a person understand an issue or a topic. One good tip in probing is to use the word “exactly” in the question.
Leading questions tend to manipulate the manner of thinking and decision making of a person. Rhetorical questions are questions that do not need answers. It simply engages the person you are talking to in the conversation.
Similar to funneling, another technique is the use of chunking in asking questions. This is best used when the person talks in a broad approach. Chunking digs down to details from the high level of information that was shared. Strategic questioning helps generate new ways of learning and it is useful in a group discussion in order to arrive at a consensus. It is closely related to planning questions.
Steps in Good Questioning Technique
Although the following steps are more suitable in a class or a group setting, it may also be applied in casual conversation with other people. In using questioning technique, the first step is to state the question instead of calling the person’s name first unless there are only two of you in the conversation. This gives the individual time to think through the question being asked. In structuring the question, keep it clear and direct instead of being vague and ambiguous.
The question must be tailored to the level of understanding and ability of the person to be asked. Always remember to ask questions in a logical and sequential manner. If adopting a specific technique will help, then do so. Other than that, the questions should be asked at various levels, too.
The next step is to address the question to the intended person. After which, allow a few seconds of pause to gather the thoughts together. Always acknowledge the response and let others offer their comments of reactions. Lastly, repeat the answer either by restating or paraphrasing it.
Advantages of Using Questioning Techniques
Being able to structure questions properly and ask the right ones becomes an effective method in gaining the kind of response of information that you wish to get. Apart from enhancing the learning skills, it also minimizes getting individuals into a misunderstanding. The use of probing questions clears out any assumptions and confusions. Applying the right questioning technique greatly helps in the field of managing and coaching or in whatever aspects you want to apply it to.
Teachers and class instructors are able to check for students’ comprehension through a questioning technique. In sales, asking questions with a style helps persuade customers and generate sales. During a heated situation, you can pacify the atmosphere by using the funneling technique to get the inconvenienced person talking about the grievance.