questions

5 Tips for Asking Great Questions

questions.png

Asking great questions is as much an art as it is a skill. But developing that question-asking muscle is essential for great leadership. Asking great questions is the most effective thing a leader can do to create conversational environments where people can experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth. Jesus did this better than anyone in history. In the Gospels, he's asked a ton of questions — everything from "Are you the Son of God?" to "Which is the greatest commandment in the law?" He rarely responds with an answer. Instead, he tends to ask questions that lead people to consider the truth, think about their own experiences, and reflect. Jesus understood that asking great questions helps people to process what they're thinking and feeling and to really own the answers they discover. Providing quick, simple answers doesn't usually do that.

When it comes to asking great questions, Jesus sets the bar high. You probably won't be as quick or insightful as he was (I'm not, that's for sure). But it's still a great idea to work on your question-asking skills, and to look to Christ for inspiration. You won't change overnight, but in time you'll find that your ability to ask better questions will create a better environment for your group members to grow.

Here are five simple, self-explanatory tips for asking great questions in group:

  1. Ask open-ended questions, not those that can be answered with a yes or no.
  2. Ask questions that evoke feelings, make people think, and lead to insights.
  3. Ask questions that have more than one right answer.
  4. Ask questions that encourage group members to share personal examples.
  5. Ask questions that stimulate group members to apply what they're learning.

Responding to questions by asking good follow-up questions engages everyone in the group. As you guide the conversation, make sure responses connect your questions to the topic you're discussing, pave the way for you and your group members to talk about your personal struggles, and encourage self-discovery by allowing people to arrive at their own conclusions with the help of the group discussion.

Ask the Second Question

sunglasses.jpg

You have permission to ask the second question. What do I mean by that? What is the second question? It’s the follow-up. “Hi, how are you?”

“Great. How are you?”

“Good!”

Without the second question, the conversation is over. But as the group's leader, you're invited to continue the conversation by asking another question. Be the kind of leader who is interested in others beyond the surface-level pleasantries. More times than not, when you ask a second question, people start getting real.

When you ask someone how he or she is doing and you a get-one word responses like, “fine,” “good,” or “okay,” show your group member you care and are genuinely interested in knowing what’s going on in his or her life by asking specific questions. You can even ask a group member what "fine," "good," or "okay" looks like.

People generally want to talk in more detail about how they’re doing, but they need to know the person on the other end of the conversation is safe. They need a little encouragement. They need to feel confident that, if they get more personal, what they say will be well received. You're in a special position. You're the group's leader. You have an opportunity to lead your members in healthy, safe communication by asking the second question.