How to Ask Questions That Wake-Up People

Life changes after you change the way you think. Questions explode assumptions.

You resist statements. But curiosity penetrates defiance.

The best question is the second question. Image of a nosy lamb.

Stupid questions:

Stupid questions invite dimwit answers. “Why did you hit your sister?” anticipates an excuse you don’t want to hear. “What did you do?” invites responsibility.

“Don’t you agree?” insults intelligence.

“How are you?” isn’t the smartest thing to ask if you don’t want an honest answer.

The best question:

The best question is specific. Ask a stranger, “How are you?” Ask your friend how he slept last night.

The best question wakes up sleepy brain cells. “What’s working?” makes negative people think.

Second questions burst the bubble of perceived knowledge. Image of a goat.

Second questions:

The best question is the second question.

A leader I work with just got back from vacation. I was eager to ask if he looked forward to getting back. He was. My second question provided opportunity for reflection. “What were you eager to get back to?”

Make the first question easy to answer and use it as a platform for the next.

When someone answers a question, ask a question about their answer.

A second question is a pick and shovel.

  1. I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Could you say more about that?
  2. That seems important to you. What’s important about that to you?
  3. What are three options? Which option do you want to try? What’s next?

Tip: Ask questions that lead to action.

What are some of the best questions?

Bonus material:

15 Questions that Change the Way People Think

Two Rules that Make You Look Smart When You Ask Questions

The Book of Beautiful Questions (Warren Berger)

Asking Powerful Questions (

25 Powerful Coaching Questions to Get You Where You Want to Go (Jesse Lyn Stoner)

The Surprising Power of Questions (HBR)

The Science of Asking Great Questions (AMA)

Now That’s a Great Question (Bob Tiede) Free download