re: How do you train people to ask good questions VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

There are high level and low level questions. Low level questions are informational. High level questions are open ended.

Sometimes it's subtle — "How does this work?" v. "How will this accomplish X, Y and Z?". Or "Why is this a priority?" v. "Why are we reprioritizing this?"

 

In both cases, however, I find that people are often over-assuming in their question-asking — especially in both the open-ended questions and the "simple" questions. In either case you're left with the choice of "I can give you all possible answers that I'm aware of" or "great: I've gotta play 20 questions to try to figure out what you're really asking."

 

I suppose it's important to ask up front about the assumptions being made. When I say "open ended" questions — I mean questions that start a mutually beneficial conversation. From the perspective of the person being asked the question it might seem confusing if the assumption is "I need to give you an answer right now"..

In small talk — when someone posits a question like "How are you?" you are not expected to give a correct answer or play 20 questions till you figure out what the other person was truly asking. It's just a platform — a genesis for conversation to occur. An opening.

And I can see how in technical discussions it's important to be more formal and look at a topic from different angles and bring to light any false assumptions.

Yeah. Problem is always precision - either eliminating casual assumptions or explicitly agreeing on the assumptions to be used.

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