Questioning Skills

by Steve Roche

Why do good questions matter?

Questioning skills are essential to many business roles and functions, including:

  • managing, coaching, mentoring, facilitation,
  • sales, negotiation, arbitration, market research,
  • appraisal, interviewing, training and consultancy.

Good questioning is a vital part of these activities:

  • making decisions
  • reaching agreements
  • selling and influencing
  • dealing with customer complaints
  • getting and giving information (for example, policy, instructions, feedback, marketing information).

Questioning skills go hand in hand with Listening Skills. They are nearly always used together, and are important because:

  • Good listening and skilful questioning give a powerful message to those with whom you interact. They hugely increase your capacity to influence, motivate, develop or serve people effectively. This is a major factor in the success of a good communicator.
  • They are an inherent part of most life skills, and, as such, fundamental to human interaction.
  • They allow us to demonstrate that we are paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of the other person (seeing the world through their eyes). This is crucial to maintaining productive relationships, and sometimes the only way to establish communication.

Asking questions has long been recognised as a powerful way of stimulating learning, creativity and change.

In any field, progress arises more from knowing what questions to ask than from the knowledge that is currently available.

Answers are a matter of our current knowledge about ‘what is’, but questions are the product of imagination, and serve to stimulate imagination even further. The deepest processes of transformation arise from the commitment to asking questions.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein