Underrated Skill:Asking Great Questions

The best way to learn is to ask great questions. It doesn't matter if you are talking with an expert, reading a book or brainstorming alone -- focusing your effort by asking great questions is key.

Great questions focus your energy. They help you determine what is (and isn't) important and retain the information that matters.

Here are some great questions that work in all kinds of situations?

  1. What information do you need to make the decision?
  2. WHY are we (insert what you're doing)?
  3. What are the biggest assumptions that drive this option / person / view?
  4. What are the primary influences on this opinion / person / view?
  5. Why does this matter?
  6. What am I trying to convey? (message & feeling)
  7. Who are the stakeholders? Who does this impact?
  8. Who is protecting the status quo?
  9. How has this changed over the last (year / decade / month)?
  10. What is best for five years from now? (and change the time horizon)
  11. What's important NOW?
  12. Where have I seen these patterns before?
  13. What are the potential downsides? upsides? Most likely outcome?
  14. What is out of my control about this situation? What is in my control?
  15. What would help?