Top 10 Guidelines for Asking Questions
1. Inquire, don’t conduct an inquisition, don’t fire questions, let them come up casually in conversation.
2. Use body language that indicates you’re interested. Smile, lean forward, look intently, head tilted, hands open and visible.
3. Use a friendly, pleasant tone of voice when asking. Smile when asking questions (even on the phone): you’ll sound less serious.
4. Ask in the positive. Never use phrases like “You wouldn’t would you?” or “I don’t like... Don’t you agree?”
5. Ask the tough questions up front, it’s usually easier and more comfortable for people to answer when they are still anonymous. The questions you don’t ask early may be more difficult to ask later when you are more familiar.
6. Keep control of the conversation flow. If you want to discuss something in particular, bridge or link topics back to what you prefer to discuss.
7. Ask one question at a time, and then shut up! Sometimes people need time to consider and elaborate and answer.
8. Listen, Listen, Listen. The answers can sometimes lead to more follow-up questions. Listen actively, give your full attention. People like to feel that you care about what they are sharing. They’ll open up even more.
9. Thank them for sharing personal information and express appreciation for their being so honest and upfront. Wherever possible agree with a nod or verbally, it builds trust and rapport.
10. Find common ground and share a personal tidbit that is relevant. Practice “need to know.” Get information.