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How to Ask Intelligent Questions With Impact

by Gary Lockwood     See more of Gary's articles

Here is a brief synopsis of the following article (922 words):
"How to ask intelligent questions with impact" by Gary Lockwood.
How would you like a magic way to influence people to do whatever
you want them to do? There are thousands of examples to prove that
asking good questions is one of the most important success secrets.
When you ask wise questions, others will applaud your insight and
your understanding, even when they are doing most of the talking.

How to ask intelligent questions with impact

How would you like a magic way to influence people to do whatever
you want them to do? This technique uses win-win psychology. It
gives you the power to arrange events to your satisfaction. It puts
almost any resource or person at your service to help you get what-
ever you want. It gets you the helpful counsel of leaders.

The entire medical profession uses this technique. Educators,
business leaders, salespeople, researchers, scientists and even
business coaches use this method. What is this magic performance

Ask and you shall receive says the Bible. Ask, and every human being
has been conditioned to do what they are asked to do, say the
psychologists. Ask, and according to the law of averages, you’ll get
enough “yes's” to guarantee your success, say the sales managers.

Ask important people any sensible, relevant question, for their
opinion, advice, for a favor or anything that will enable you to meet
them; then make sure they know who you are, and maintain your
contact so they remember you. Ask “How can we do this better?”
Ask “How can we do more?” Ask “How can we serve our clients
better?” If you don’t have answers to these questions, find someone
who does and ask them.

There are thousands of examples to prove that asking good questions
is one of the most important success secrets. Asking is the quickest,
easiest and surest ways to get people to do what you want them to do.
Why does this work? Why do people tend to do what you ask them
to do? Why is it that people who have no interest in you use their time
and energy to furnish you with information just because you asked them
for it? Because people are conditioned from childhood to
respond to polite questions. If you ask intelligent questions with impact,
almost everyone will answer you.

The other significant reason to ask good questions is to help the
person you are asking. Asking well-crafted, intelligent questions
causes people to think profoundly. When someone thinks more
deeply than before, new ideas, new answers and new possibilities

Years ago, as a business consultant, I took pride in always having an
answer. Now I realize that in our fast-moving, mile-a-minute world,
answers have a very short shelf-life. Having the right questions is
more important and more valuable.

In my practice as a business coach, one of my most important roles
is to ask questions that cause my clients to consider possibilities
they have not yet explored. Asking relevant questions of my clients is
like holding up a mirror to their actions and decisions so they can
see for themselves whether it is the right thing to do.

How do you ask good questions? I’m glad you asked. Here are a
few pointers. First, choose the appropriate type of question to ask.
Questions can be categorized into two basic groups, open and closed.
Ask OPEN questions when you want to engage the other person in
conversation. Open questions literally “open up” the dialogue. Open
questions require more than a word or two to answer adequately.
Open questions generally begin with “What” “How” “Who” “When”
“Why”. Be careful when asking “Why” questions. Too many can
come across as confrontational.

Open questions come in different types:
Subjective questions - use these when you ask for an opinion. “What
do you think about......?” “What are his qualifications?” “How do you
feel about.......?”

Objective questions - these are to ask for specific information. “What
evidence did the police have?” ”How have you been handling this
process?” “What factors are necessary to raise your CSI?”

Problem Solving questions - ask these when you want action ideas.
“What should you do next?” ”How would you implement the steps
we just discussed?”

Use CLOSED questions when you want to inhibit long discussion.
Closed questions can be answered adequately in only a few words.
Closed questions often begin with “Are” “Can” “Did” “Do” etc.

Closed questions also come in different types:
Identification question “What kind of car is this?” “Who is responsible
for this...?”

Selection question (these are either / or) “Are closed or open questions
better at promoting discussion?” “Who is right, the manager or the dealer?”

Yes/No question “Does this client have the documentation on the
LOMAC project?” “Has the questioning process been presented
to the managers?”

So here’s the formula. When you want short, crisp answers, ask
closed questions. When you want a discussion, ask open questions.
If you want to shorten the discussion, ask a closed question. When
you desire a narrative, use an open question.

The most common mistake in asking questions is to ask a closed
question when you actually want the other person to expound. For
example, “ Will you tell me about your vacation?” This is technically
a closed question, designed for a yes or no answer. Fortunately, in
our culture, most people will give you a polite answer even when
you ask the wrong type of question.

Asking the correct type and style of question makes it easier for the
people around you to provide the appropriate answer. When you ask
wise questions, others will applaud your insight and your understanding,
even when they are doing most of the talking. Sincere questions are
a great conversation starter. Good questions are good for everyone

Here is a parting question for you to ponder; “What could you
personally gain by asking intelligent questions with impact?”

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About the Author...(for online pubs)

Gary Lockwood is Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the 
Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals. (951) 739-7444
Email: Web:

About the Author...(for print pubs)

Gary Lockwood is Your Business Coach. Contact Gary for a FREE report 
on "Getting Breakthroughs in your business". 
(951) 739-7444  * Fax: (509) 695-1017  
Email: * Web:


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