"Questioning is the ability to organize our thinking around what we don't know."

It’s the time of the “cycle” to start clocking PDUs, to ensure my PMP Certification stays current. When I discovered selected LinkedIn Learning courses qualifies for PDUs, there is no turning back. Though I still love learning about technical stuff, I’m starting to shift gears a little towards business trainings.

Seeing that critical thinking is a desired trait in several job descriptions, this course on Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity caught my attention. Besides, I have also found myself stumpled on occasions, when the answers I get are not what I expected.

So, definitely keen to learn how to ask better questions besides the usual “How are you”. This question seems open-ended but they usually end up with 1 liner replies. 1 feedback I received in the past was it was too open-ended i.e. not specific enough. Hmmm…

Anyway, here’s what I learnt from this quick 30mins course:

1. 4 Tips to Ask Great Questions
     a. Ask open-ended questions. Avoid yes/no questions.
     b. Use follow-up questions e.g. What made you said that
     c. Learn to embrace silence i.e. be patient while waiting for response
     d. Don’t interrupt as it may disrupt one’s train of thoughts

2. 5 Question Types
     a. Closed (Yes/No)
         i.   Conversation Openers
         ii.  Test understaning
         iii. Set up a frame of mind
     b. Open
         i.   Follow up from Closed questions
         ii.  Find out more about the other person’s wants/needs/problems
         iii. Broaden one’s perspective, and the extend of their problem
     c. Leading or Loaded (Point one in a certain direction)
         i.  Did you have a good day at school today vs
         ii. How was school today
     d. Recall and Process
         i.  Recall is to “test” whether the other person remembers
         ii. Process usually involes deeper though which requires analysis
     e. Rhetorical questions (Get audience to think i.e. promote thought)

3. Asking Questions Strategically
     a. Know what you want
     b. Actually ask for it (Be bold, direct & brave)
     c. Be clear (So that anyone can understand the question)
     d. Be targeted about who you ask (Quality not quantity)
     e. Be responsible with your questions (E.g. can they be printed on the newspaper)

4. Avoid Canned Questions

Strategy Why
a. Limit your questions to 1 sentence Ensure open ended
b. Only provide options if those are the only options Avoid limiting answers
c. Stay short, open ended, and neutral Great questions are designed to find out what other people know

5. Answer questions effectively
     a. Listen to all parts of the question. Identify what’s the point behind the question.
     b. Understand the question. If required, clarify through paraphrasing.
     c. Communicate & involve. Be mindful and engage everyone, especially in large groups.
     d. When responding
             i.   Brief & focus
             ii.  Pause
             iii. Check if there’s any answered question

"Dig deep and get curious about what you're hearing. Look for the learning opportunity in each situation."