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What Makes a Great Question

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While listening is an essential skill for anyone in the workplace, the art of asking questions is equally, if not more, important. Smartly framed inquiries will help you clarify your work tasks, deliver better results, and mitigate unforeseen risks. Here are three key characteristics of great questions — and how to put them into practice.

  • They demonstrate that you’re thoroughly prepared for a conversation. Whatever you are asking about, be sure to convey to your client, colleague, or manager that you’ve done your homework.
  • They illustrate the expertise you bring to the table — without showing it off. You can casually reference past work or skills related to the question you plan to pose. You might say, “From my past experience doing A, B, and C, I have learned X, Y, and Z…now it makes me wonder [insert question].”
  • They invite others to challenge their existing beliefs. If your question simply reinforces what your conversation partner already knows or thinks, it’s not worth their time. Instead, ask questions that introduce potentially new solutions and ideas and help uncover new opportunities for you and your clients or colleagues.

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