How To Ask Better Questions in 5 Simple Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 11, 2022 | Published May 3, 2021

Updated August 11, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

Asking questions is essential to learning how to do your job and improving as an employee. Additionally, asking questions can benefit you in other ways, including helping you to form professional relationships. If you want to ask better questions at work, there are tangible steps that you can follow to formulate good questions and get the information you're looking for.

In this article, we discuss the benefits of asking better questions at work and explain four simple steps that you can follow to ask effective questions.

Benefits of asking better questions at work

Asking questions can help you in more ways than just you getting specific answers. Here are some of the benefits of asking better questions at work:

Gaining opportunities to learn

When you have a question, you can use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. By keeping a growth mindset, you can think positively about having questions and use the answers to improve yourself. Asking questions can also make you better at your job and more equipped to handle issues that come up.

Read more: Using a Growth Mindset To Develop Your Skills

Creating a positive work environment

Asking questions can also help create a positive work environment. Creating a habit of asking questions can help other people to feel comfortable enough to ask questions that can benefit your entire workplace. Asking questions can also help foster a trusting, honest workplace.

Read more: Positive Working Environment: Definition and Characteristics

Showing your drive to improve

By asking great questions, you can also show your colleagues and supervisors that you want to improve yourself and become better at your job. The desire to improve yourself can make you a better team member, and it's also a quality that employers and coworkers often value and respect.

Forming new professional connections

Asking questions is also a great way to form connections with mentors, supervisors and colleagues. If you show people that you value their responses, you can strengthen your relationships with them. Some people may be willing to answer your questions in the future, making them valuable professional connections.

Read more: The Importance of Networking in Business (Tips Included)

How to ask better questions at work

Here are four simple steps that you can follow to ask better questions in the workplace:

1. Know what kind of answer you're looking for

The first step to formulating a question is figuring out what kind of answer you're looking for. Think about what specific information you want to know. You might be looking for advice, factual knowledge or an opinion. Determine which type of answer best fits the information that you need to draft your question.

Additionally, during this step, think about who you need to ask in order to get the kind of answer you're looking for. For example, depending on your question, you might want to ask a colleague, a supervisor, a mentor or another professional source.

Read more: How To Ask the Right Questions (With Tips)

2. Ask open-ended questions

Another step in asking a great question is coming up with an open-ended question. Open-ended questions are questions that a person can't answer by saying "yes" or "no." Open-ended questions require a longer, more detailed response. Additionally, asking open-ended questions can help people to feel free to answer however they see fit rather than being confined to a "yes" or "no" answer.

When formulating an open-ended question, make sure that you ask only one question at a time, and try to make your question as clear as possible. If you need to ask additional questions, you can ask them separately to help your source focus without confusion.

3. Be a good listener

Listening is an essential component of the process of asking questions. After you ask a question, be sure to listen carefully to the answer. Employ active listening skills, including giving feedback. Try not to interrupt the person answering your question—save any questions or comments until after they answer.

Listening well can help you to understand the answer fully and get the information that you need. Furthermore, being a good listener can help show the person answering your question that you value their response and that you're interested in what they're saying.

Read more: How To Be a Good Listener

4. Ask follow-up questions

Asking follow-up questions is another key step to asking better questions at work. After your source has answered your question and you've considered their response, you can ask them follow-up questions.

Follow-up questions can deepen your knowledge of the topic, and they can also show your source that you respect them and value their answer. This can help you form meaningful professional connections who you may be able to ask for answers in the future.

One of the keys to asking with good follow-up questions is listening. You can think of follow-up questions by listening carefully to your source's answer and picking out parts that you're curious about or you want to understand better.

5. Say thank you

After someone has answered a question for you, be sure to thank them for their time and their answer. This can show them that you are grateful for their help, and it can also strengthen your professional relationship, making them a valuable connection for when you have questions in the future.

Tips for asking good questions

Here are a few tips to consider to ask better questions at work:

Speak clearly

Communicating effectively is an important part of asking good questions. When asking questions, be sure to speak clearly so that people can understand your question and are not confused by it. If you need to, you can rephrase your question to make it easier for your source to understand and answer.

Read more: 7 Tips for Improving Communication Skills

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple can also help you to ask better questions. Try to ask your questions in simple terms and keep them as straightforward as possible. By using simple language and keeping your questions brief, you can make them easier for people to understand and answer quickly.

Be patient

Another tip for asking good questions is practicing patience. Be sure to give your source adequate time to come up with an answer to your questions. Additionally, you can pause between questions to allow them to relax and you to process their answer.

Speak neutrally

In order to get an honest answer from your source, try to speak in neutral terms without bias. Try to avoid inserting your own opinions into your question. Instead, ask simple, open-ended questions to elicit an honest, straightforward response.

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