How to ask the right questions - and minimise what is lost in translation

Dec 21, 2013 1:03:00 PM / by Vu Long Tran

I just stumbled this article which is great. Written by Shane Snow at the Fast Company.

Basically it's about "How to ask the right questions?"

He goes in detail on some of the tips below which helps you to frame your questions in the right way to solicit the right responses.

I guess it takes time and practice, but here is a quick list of them. It's best to read the details with it on the article.

  • Don't ask multiple-choice questions
  • Interject with questions when necessary
  • Field non-answers by reframing questions later
  • Repeat answers back for clarification or more detail
  • Don’t be embarrassed

Here's his summary as well. I think the body language aspects of what he is saying is important, particularly to stop nodding if you don't understand. As sometimes we want to give the impression we understand, but really it doesn't do anyone any favours when you do. I generally like to ask questions to align understanding of words, phrases, and sentences, even it makes me look a little silly. As meanings can be easily lost in translation.

  • Don't ramble on -terminate the sentence at the question mark.
  • Get comfortable with silence.
  • Start with "who, what, when, where, how, or why" for more meaningful answers.
  • Don't fish for the answer you want.
  • Stop nodding if you don't understand-ask a follow-up instead.
  • If you get a non-answer, approach it again from a different angle.
  • Rephrase the answer in your own words.
  • Don't be afraid to ask dumb questions.
Vu Long Tran

Written by Vu Long Tran

Solutions Engineer APAC. ex-@Forrester consultant. Writing on #cloud #howto guides and #tech tinkering!