Recently I was looking to purchased a new car and wanted to make sure that all of the questions I had would be answered correctly to my satisfaction in order to make the right decision. I needed to think about how to ask my questions in order to get the right information I was looking for.
When asking about the financing I used closed questions such as “I will get zero interest financing correct?” This way the sales person had to give me a one word answer either yes or no, but either way, I would know. When taking a ride with the salesperson and wanted to find out more about the car I was considering I asked open questions like “Why would you recommend this car to me?” And what is it about this car that you like?” This way she had to explain more about the car to me and why it was such a good vehicle.
By gathering information that I needed to make my decision with these types of questions I was able to get not only direct answers, but also more general information and the sales persons personal opinion, which I found out through my questioning that she owned the same car. So I knew the answers she gave me were from her experience in owning the same car.
Learning how to be a good question asker is very important in our workplace and everyday life. At work we can communicate more effectively with patients/customers, co-workers and employers by asking questions that will get us the information we need without having to waste time with the 100 question game.
If you are looking for short direct answers ask closed questions like “do you have the chart on Ms. Jones?” Closed questioning will get you a one word or a short factual answer, where asking open questions like “Explain to me how you want the inventory closet to be set up?” would require an answer with much more detail.
We ask questions everyday and by giving them just a bit more thought on how we ask them could give the information you are looking for, it all about asking the right questions.
Mind tools has a good article on how to ask better questions.