How to Ask Questions to Get Better Answers (Fast Company)

Most of us are not great at asking questions, and worse at accepting lousy, or no, answers. To correct our bad habits, Fast Company offers tips on how to ask more effective questions that can move a “business, organization or career forward.” For instance, don’t fish for the answer you want. Be comfortable with silence. Start with who, what, when, where, how or why for more meaningful answers. And, “if you’re getting vague responses — or complicated ones for that matter — restate the answers in your own words. … This will typically yield either a definitive ‘that’s correct,’ or a clarification with extra detail.”

“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. [One of those skills] is being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers, whether from advisors or clients or whomever.
— Evan Ratliff, former writer for The New Yorker and founder of his startup, The Atavist.


  1. Poor recommendation as articles go.
    Jon Stewart is wrongly cited as an exemplar . He’s a TERRIBLE interviewer, esp. with “serious” authors. His ques. are designed to show how bright and knowledgeable HE is rather than induce answers from his guest.
    Larry King; Cronkite ; David Brinkley of another generation would make their questions brief and LISTEN . The only one who does it well now is the intw. on Q&A / CSPAN.
    ps. Nothing wrong w/ multi choice questions if you leave room for “something else altogether”

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