How Can You Ask Good Questions? 9 Tips You Should Apply
What’s a good question? Good questions are essential to coach others or yourself. Read on to learn how to formulate good and clear questions…
What’s a good question?
There are a number of characteristics of a good question:
- A good question will help you with the issue you are facing.
- A good question provides clarity.
- A good question provides insight.
- A good question gives you confidence.
- Thanks to a good question, fear, uncertainty and doubt disappear.
If you can’t find an answer to your question, then the question is not right. Then stop looking for the answer, but see how you can ask the question better and make it clearer what you mean.
– Michael Pilarczyk
If you ask bad, confusing, complex questions with long-winded stories, you will automatically get stuck
The reason someone is stuck or has chaos in their head is simple: the questions this person (themselves) is asking are chaotic. This is why it is so important not to ask bad, confused, and long-winded questions.
Vague questions and comments are impossible to resolve. An abstract question only brings abstract schools of thought and not concrete actions to solve the question. That is of no use to you.
Moreover, too often we only think about the answer, and not at all about the question. A clear question provides a clear answer. An unclear question will lead to an unclear answer.
If you know how to ask the right questions, you can know everything.
– Lobsang Thamcho Nyima Sprul-sku, author of 108 Questions from the Secret Knowledge of Tibet
A problem is nothing more than a question that you don’t have an answer to yet. Now let’s learn how to do it from now on ….
Tip 1 – Don’t tell a story, ask a question
A story is complex. A story is also not happening in the here and now. It’s a thing of the past. So a story does not help you forward. Although it may seem that way, stories have nothing to do with asking good questions to help you move forward.
You show your intelligence in a question. Not by telling you what you already know.
Yet you see everyone who asks a coaching question with a whole story. It is logical that you want to tell your story, and understand immediately that it has nothing to do with questions and solutions.
If you want to move forward, ask a question and don’t tell a story.
Tip 2 – Don’t make your question too complex
A non-complex question is: how do I get an annual profit of 40,000 euros? Or, how can I make sure I’m in a relationship at the end of the year?
An unnecessarily complex (and unclear) question is, for example: ‘I want my business to run smoothly, but at the same time I have limitations about my relationship with money and it will not flow. I feel that I am not ready yet, but how do I become more visible? ‘
If that last question already made you itchy, then you are on the right track.
Tip 3 – Use clear words that are open to one interpretation
Break down all the words that appear in your question. For example, if you ask how you can experience more freedom, explain what freedom specifically means to you. You can use the meta model as an aid for this .
- What do you really mean?
- What do you mean exactly?
- What do you want to solve?
- What does that look like?
- What can you do?
- Where are you already?
Tip 4 – Chunk down to sort out an abstract question
Do you know what ‘ downchunken ‘ is? It means that you become as concrete as possible:
- You are going to stretch and sift through the question that is still too abstract.
- You are going to look for examples.
- You are going to make it more concrete with the meta model . Just applying more precision to a situation by means of the metamodel ensures that you get more clarity and peace of mind. Your entire experience changes simply by clarifying things with sharp questions.
- You examine what certain words in a question mean for a specific person. ‘You want freedom, but what does freedom mean to you? How does that manifest itself? What do we see, hear and feel? ‘
If someone says, “I’d like to go somewhere with someone,” you really have to dissect that question completely before you can even attempt to get a decent answer. Vague questions and comments are impossible to resolve.
Tip 5 – Don’t ask for the question which will magnify an irrelevant problem
Do not ignore the goal with your question. Take the following question for example:
“How should you appear well-groomed during a job application, while not caring too much about what others think about you?”
This is a question that clings to the conflict between the principles of ‘personal grooming’ and ‘caring less about things’. This question completely misses the point. Don’t stick to those principles. Make sure you fix the situation: the goal is to get the job so do whatever it takes to get that job. If neat clothes and a haircut contribute to that, then you just do.
Tip 6 – Use the words ‘what if’ in your question
Use ‘what if’. This is the wonder question. This puts you in the solution focused mode.
What would you do if you had a lot of confidence? What would your life be like?
In the next tip we will continue with the solution-oriented approach.
Tip 7 – Let your question focus on the solution
Ask the question: how am I going to solve all this ? This is perhaps the most important question as it can lead to action to fix things. This is the inductive mindset.
Ask better questions. Think about it carefully. Then you will get better answers.
– Michael Pilarczyk
Tip 8 – Use the Cartesian coordinates
Descartes has brought us four schools of thought to look at a question. An example of a Cartesian question is: When do you not have Self-confidence? For all four Cartesian coordinates, see this article.
Tip 9 – Think deeply about the answer
You asked a good question. Perfect. Now it comes: most people dread actually thinking about the answer. They are a little afraid of that. They prefer to be distracted by other things.
Actually sit in your room for a few hours and think. Or walk into nature.
Keep digging. Then there comes a moment when you suddenly gain clarity. All the answers are already there.
Take a nature walk, ask that question out loud ten times and actually think about it for two hours. Don’t be too lazy to actually work for it to get the answer.
To your success!