How Do You Become a Better Question-Asker? 3 Quick Ideas.
Do you want to make a lasting impact in the lives of other people? What is the best strategy to do this?
I have become more convinced than ever that questions are almost always better than answers. If you want to genuinely influence people, and develop meaningful relationships, learning how to ask good questions in indispensable.
As a parent, I try to ask my kids questions that allow me to enter their worlds. As a professor, I ask my students tons of questions to get them to think. And as a husband, I ask my wife questions to deepen our relationship and also to understand what she’s thinking and feeling.
Questions are the key that unlock better understanding and relational depth.
If questions are so important, then how do we learn to become better question askers? I certainly don’t have it all figured out. But here’s a few ideas I have learned along the way. I would love to hear any ideas that you have.
1. Observe People Who are Good Question-Askers. I like to observe people who ask good questions. For instance, sports commentator Colin Cowherd frequently has guests on his shows and he asks insightful and interesting questions. Although he makes it seem natural and intuitive, it’s clear he has given considerable thought beforehand to the kinds of questions he asks his guests.
Who do you know of that asks interesting questions? A radio host? Teacher? Speaker? Friend? Have you given much thought to how they come up with good questions? Here's an idea: Ask! If you know someone who asks good questions, then ask their secret.
2. Remember Good Questions. If you come across a good question, remember it, and use it again. Here are a few questions I enjoy asking people:
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be, and why? What is one of your best memories from growing up? If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Who are the people that have influenced you the most, and what was it that made them so influential?
3. Be Curious. Perhaps the best way to become a better question asker is simply to be genuinely curious. I once asked Frank Pastore, the late radio show host and professional baseball player, how he came up with questions for his show. He simply asks the kinds of questions that he’s curious about. He was a naturally curious person who wanted to understand the world. He asked questions that intrigued him, and as a result, they intrigued his audience, and his radio show was wildly popular. If you want to be a good question-asker, then work on becoming a genuinely curious person.
So, what do you think? What have I missed? If you have any other ideas about how to become a better question-asker, I would love to hear.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.