Please Join Us!
When: Friday, 26 May @ 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST)
Topic: The Art of Asking Good Questions
About This Week’s Chat
The History Teacher
I grew up in an environment where I wasn’t encouraged to practice critical inquiry. It was a typical conservative household where children had to be “seen and not heard.” At best, I was allowed to ask questions that didn’t make anyone uncomfortable about their beliefs and values (religion and politics were to be avoided).
But, my senior high school history teacher, Mr Wensley, encouraged us to think critically. I loved his classes because, to my parents’ dismay, I loved questioning everything. Politics, religion, rules… you name it, I questioned it – even authority. I wanted to know who made all the rules, why they got to decide, how we could know they were right, and why we had to listen to them. As you can imagine, my probing often landed me in hot water.
I still remember how energized I felt in Mr Wensley’s classes. When we did exams, and could go beyond the facts with our own insights into historical events, we even got bonus points. I loved it! Mr Wensley wanted us to think more deeply about historical events, rather than just learn the facts. To develop such deeper insights, we had to ask critical questions about those events.
We had to challenge general assumptions, our own ideas, and even our own explanations of the facts we had learned. This included asking, “What could have made this event play out differently?” or, “How could this country’s behavior have made a difference to that event?” What would normally have been a study of facts became an exercise in critical thinking.
This teacher knew that, if he presented us with answers, we’d probably stop thinking. He knew that thinking wasn’t driven by answers, but by inquiry. So, instead of giving classes containing all the answers, his lessons usually had lots of questions.
The Art of Asking Good Questions
When I grew older, I realized that the ability to ask questions was my best friend, on condition that I asked them in the right way… and at the right time.
There are many different types of questions: of purpose and logic, for instance. Questions of precision give us more detail, and questions of assumption help us to examine how we think. We can also inquire about interpretation to evaluate how well people understand something. Questions of accuracy can help us to establish factual correctness.
We’re going to talk about “The Art of Asking Good Questions” in our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week.
In last week’s poll, we asked you what you think the most important reason is for asking good questions. A convincing 71 percent of you said it was to learn, and only 1 percent said it was to teach. To see the other questions and what the responses were, take a look at the poll here.
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following suggestions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- Why is it important to master the art of asking good questions?
- Can asking them improve relationships? If yes, how?
- What are some examples of “victim questions?”
- What are some examples of empowering questions?
- How can good questions help people to grow?
- When shouldn’t you ask?
- How does the attitude of curiosity impact on your approach?
- Have you ever felt shut down because of someone’s line of inquiry? How did you handle it?
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
- Questioning Techniques
- Ask These 5 Questions Before Making Decisions
- Watch Your Language!
- How to Get Your Voice Heard in Meetings
- 5 Whys
- Active Listening
At Mind Tools, we like hearing from people all over the globe. We’d like to learn from you, too, and we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.