Asking good questions can help your career

When you consider the types of skills you need to succeed in your career, it’s common to think about skills that relate specifically to the jobs you are seeking. But there are broader, universal skills, like critical thinking, that are just as important.

One skill that’s rarely considered involves the ability to ask good questions. This skill applies in countless settings, from job interviews, dealing with co-workers and customers, and also in negotiations. One of the best ways to disarm a tough negotiator is to ask very specific questions about the consequences of what they are asking for.

This article discusses questions as a conversational tool, and explains the difference between good and bad questions.

“As someone who had little to no experience in business–outside of running my own one-man freelancing operation–all that’s really saved me (so far) from madness are the skills I used as a journalist,” says Evan Ratliff, who wrote for magazines like The New Yorker before founding his startup, The Atavist. One of those skills, he says, is “being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers, whether from advisors or clients or whomever.”

Good questions can move your business, organization, or career forward. They squeeze incremental value from interactions, the drops of which add up to reservoirs of insight. Of all the skills innovators can learn from journalists, the art of the expert Q&A is the most useful.

The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs, hedge, and miss out on opportunities to grow.

read the entire article to see some of the examples, and it will help you refine your questioning skills.


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