How to ask a question intelligently

Ways to Ask Questions Intelligently

The phrase “There is no such thing as a dumb question” would have surely been uttered sometime during our formal education days in the classroom. Although it is highly debatable on whether a question can be considered as a ‘dumb’ question, we can agree that there are questions which are asked in a smarter way compared with others. Learning how to ask questions intelligently is crucial as it determines the quality of the answers we get. Broad questions generally tend to attract broad answers and carefully targeted questions will yield specific answers. Here are some good (but not limited) tips on how to ask questions more intelligently:

Tip 1: Clarifying a statement

When we are unsure of a statement made, need further clarification or require in-depth explanation, all we need to do is to ask for the question to be clarified. To ask a clarifying question, firstly acknowledge and repeat the statement made by the speaker. Next, make your intention clear that you are about to ask a question to clarify the aforementioned statement.

For example, such questions can be worded as “You mentioned earlier that there are two ways which can be used to market this product. Just to clarify, could you please elaborate more on those two methods that you speak of?”

Tip 2: Asking open-ended questions

Most often, questions surrounding issues or posed during discussions generally prompt answers which require further explanations. Such questions are open-ended questions where the person answering is forced to elaborate further which could then lead to more questions. In contrast, a close-ended question generally ends with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ answer.

For example, instead of asking, “Is social media marketing appropriate for this campaign?”, try asking “Besides social media marketing, what other ways could we explore for the purpose of making this campaign successful?”.

Tip 3: Listen carefully before asking

Listening and following the rhythm of the topic in discussion is important as it determines the type and quality of questions we ask. Staying engaged in the discussion is crucial and avoid letting your mind wander off. You do not want to be asking questions which are outside the topic of discussion and bears little relation to the conversation. Even worse, you do not want to be asking a question which was just answered awhile back – this is a clear sign that you were not following the discussion.

Tip 4: Use precise language

If the conversation revolves about technical subjects such as engineering, finance or IT, then use the appropriate jargons in your questions. Also, avoid using hyperboles as it clouds the actual question which could elicit vague answers. For example, instead of asking, “What are the returns we as shareholders can expect from this project?”, try using more direct and specific language such as, “What are the net present value of this project and the monetary returns shareholders could expect from this project in five years”.

Tip 5: Be direct

In trying to ask a question, sometimes we get a bit carried away explaining using background information and events leading up to our question. Such elaborate explanations could also be misconstrued as making a clarifying statement – but it is not. Too much information could deviate the question from its intended path causing us to receive an entirely different answer. For example, instead of explaining your situation where you would need more information in order to form a valuation on a particular project, simply state what are the parameters you need to do the job.

How do you ask the right question?

How to Ask the Right Question in the Right Way

  • Avoid asking rhetorical questions.
  • Ask friendly, clarifying questions.
  • Don’t set traps.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Be grateful.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Avoid being too direct.
  • Silence is golden.

How do you ask an intelligent question?

To ask a question intelligently, start by giving a brief explanation of why you’re confused. Then, before you ask the question, say something that you do know about the topic to make yourself look smarter. Finally, state what you’re confused about and wait for the other person to elaborate.

How do you politely ask a question?

Polite requests and questions | Spoken English –

What are powerful questions?

Powerful questions are provocative queries that put a halt to evasion and confusion. By asking the powerful question, the coach invites the client to clarity, action, and discovery at a whole new level.

What are the 4 types of questions?

In English, there are four types of questions: general or yes/no questions, special questions using wh-words, choice questions, and disjunctive or tag/tail questions. Let’s look at each type in more detail.

What should I ask in 20 questions?

20 Deep Questions To Ask Your Crush During A Game Of 20 Questions

  1. Have You Ever Dine And Dashed At A Restaurant?
  2. Would You Rather Have Endless Money Or Endless Love?
  3. Have You Ever Been In A Car Accident — And It Was Your Fault?
  4. If You Could Star In A Movie, What Movie Would It Be?

What are intelligent questions?

Let me suggest some questions which can help you know if you are really intelligent.

Are You Really Intelligent?

  • Leadership: How do you become a leader that people want to follow?
  • Wealthy People and Families: What does a rich man have which a poor man does not?
  • Goals: How do I control my mind and focus on my goals?

What are deep questions to ask?

Here are 15 of the best deep questions to ask:

  1. Are you living a meaningful life?
  2. What’s the one thing you cannot live without?
  3. When is it acceptable, if ever, to disobey the law?
  4. What do you want your final words to be?
  5. What inspires you the most?
  6. What do you think are the 5 most beautiful things in the world?

What are polite questions?

Asking Polite Questions

  • There are three main types of questions. Each of these question types can be used to form polite questions.
  • Direct Question.
  • Where do you work?
  • Are they coming to the party?
  • How long has she worked for this company?
  • Indirect Question.
  • Can you tell me where he plays tennis?
  • I wonder if you know what time it is.

What is a polite request?

A request is when we ask someone for something. Since we are asking someone for help, it is important to be polite. These are not polite requests. They are in fact quite rude. People will be offended because they will think that you are giving them orders.

Is a request a question?

A question is an utterance which typically functions as a request for information, which is expected to be provided in the form of an answer. Rhetorical questions, for example, are interrogative in form but may not be considered true questions as they are not expected to be answered.

Question Posted Friday April 13 2007, 3:07 pm

How do you Ask a Question Intelligently?

Don’t ask and then leave out important details.

Don’t capitalize random first letters as you have in this question.

Use proper English and not texting abbreviations.

Use proper punctuation.

Don’t start out your question with “Hi, it’s me again”. You are anonymous to the users of this site
and they don’t know what you asked before.

Take a look at some of the other questions on the site to avoid asking the same question that has already been asked a hundred times.

[ karenR’s advice column | Ask karenR A Question ]

kassidyy answered Friday April 13 2007, 3:09 pm:
Define exactly what it is you want to know.
Never ask a question in an aggressive manner.
Start with something simple.
Lay your concepts or ideas and assumptions on the table.
Ask politely and second-guess carefully.
Be gracious.
Thank the person.
Example: “Until now, I had always thought that classical music was not worth listening to. Maybe it is because all my friends hated it. But if musicians and educated men and women enjoy it, there must be something to it. I know you like it, so can you tell me what there is to appreciate?”

[ kassidyy’s advice column | Ask kassidyy A Question ]

We’d love to help you. To improve your chances of getting an answer, here are some tips:

Search, and research

. and keep track of what you find. Even if you don’t find a useful answer elsewhere on the site, including links to related questions that haven’t helped can help others in understanding how your question is different from the rest.

Write a title that summarizes the specific problem

The title is the first thing potential answerers will see, and if your title isn’t interesting, they won’t read the rest. So make it count:

Pretend you’re talking to a busy colleague and have to sum up your entire question in one sentence: what details can you include that will help someone identify and solve your problem? Include any error messages, key APIs, or unusual circumstances that make your question different from similar questions already on the site.

Spelling, grammar and punctuation are important! Remember, this is the first part of your question others will see – you want to make a good impression. If you’re not comfortable writing in English, ask a friend to proof-read it for you.

If you’re having trouble summarizing the problem, write the title last – sometimes writing the rest of the question first can make it easier to describe the problem.

  • Bad: C# Math Confusion
  • Good: Why does using float instead of int give me different results when all of my inputs are integers?
  • Bad: [php] session doubt
  • Good: How can I redirect users to different pages based on session data in PHP?
  • Bad: android if else problems
  • Good: Why does str == “value” evaluate to false when str is set to “value”?

Introduce the problem before you post any code

In the body of your question, start by expanding on the summary you put in the title. Explain how you encountered the problem you’re trying to solve, and any difficulties that have prevented you from solving it yourself. The first paragraph in your question is the second thing most readers will see, so make it as engaging and informative as possible.

Help others reproduce the problem

Not all questions benefit from including code, but if your problem is with code you’ve written, you should include some. But don’t just copy in your entire program! Not only is this likely to get you in trouble if you’re posting your employer’s code, it likely includes a lot of irrelevant details that readers will need to ignore when trying to reproduce the problem. Here are some guidelines:

  • Include just enough code to allow others to reproduce the problem. For help with this, read How to create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example.
  • If it is possible to create a live example of the problem that you can link to (for example, on or then do so – but also copy the code into the question itself. Not everyone can access external sites, and the links may break over time. Use Stack Snippets to make a live demo of inline JavaScript / HTML / CSS.
  • DO NOT post images of code, data, error messages, etc. – copy or type the text into the question. Please reserve the use of images for diagrams or demonstrating rendering bugs, things that are impossible to describe accurately via text. For more information please see the Meta FAQ entry Why not upload images of code/errors when asking a question?

Include all relevant tags

Try to include a tag for the language, library, and specific API your question relates to. If you start typing in the tags field, the system will suggest tags that match what you’ve typed – be sure and read the descriptions given for them to make sure they’re relevant to the question you’re asking! See also: What are tags, and how should I use them?

Proof-read before posting!

Now that you’re ready to ask your question, take a deep breath and read through it from start to finish. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time: does it make sense? Try reproducing the problem yourself, in a fresh environment and make sure you can do so using only the information included in your question. Add any details you missed and read through it again. Now is a good time to make sure that your title still describes the problem!

Post the question and respond to feedback

After you post, leave the question open in your browser for a bit, and see if anyone comments. If you missed an obvious piece of information, be ready to respond by editing your question to include it. If someone posts an answer, be ready to try it out and provide feedback!

Look for help asking for help

In spite of all your efforts, you may find your questions poorly-received. Don’t despair! Learning to ask a good question is a worthy pursuit, and not one you’ll master overnight. Here are some additional resources that you may find useful:

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published by Simon Fan

This exercise can be done for as little time as you have or as much time as you have; it doesn’t matter. If you do this every day, your English will improve.

Here’s what you do.
1. Print out the list of the 100 most common words.
2. I’ve prepared a list of different types of questions and conversation/speaking topics. Pick any question from this list.
3. Each day, randomly choose words from the list of the 100 most common words in English and use those words to answer the questions.
4. You can write the answers or speak the answers.
5. If you speak the answer, try and record yourself so you can listen to yourself. No one else has to hear the recording if you don’t want them to. But, if you listen to yourself, your English will improve faster.
6. If you write the answer, you can still record what you wrote and listen to your answer.

But I Don’t Know What to Say

The biggest problems my students have had with writing and speaking usually do not involve language problems. Vocabulary, sentence structure, tense, and basic grammar can all be learned from a book or a teacher.
The hardest part of answering a speaking or writing question is thinking about what to say. Well, I’ve developed a simple system to help all my students with this and the results have been great.
Here it is:

3 Ideas that Help to Answer Almost Any Question

I thought about 3 general ideas that can be related to any question. Using this skill can help you increase your score for TOEFL, IELTS or any standardized test; it can also help you have meaningful conversations with friends; plus, it can give you the ability to express yourself intelligently to your colleagues, your boss or your clients.

With any question, if you have no idea how to answer it, try relating it to one or more of the following ideas:
1. Money
2. Health
3. Relationships

If you memorize these 3 words (money, health, relationships) you will be able to give your opinion intelligently on virtually any topic. I’ve tried it for years on myself and for my students. It’s not a trick to make you look like you are smart. It is simply a way to help you organize and communicate the thoughts and feelings you already have inside you.

How Does it Work?
Let’s start with a simple question like: Describe your city.
It’s an easy question, but it’s so general that most people don’t know where to start and then they panic and can’t say anything. But, if we relate this question to one of the 3 ideas (money, health, relationships), it can get us started, which is the hardest part.
For example, I live in Toronto. If I think of money, I can say that Toronto is the financial capital of Canada. If you want to do business in Canada, this is the place to be. Another thing that is related to money and Toronto would be the movie industry. Toronto is the 3rd largest movie making city in North America (behind only Los Angeles and New York).
In connection to health, I can say that a lot of people in Toronto are health conscious. There are health and fitness clubs throughout the city and it seems that they are almost always full. Recreational sports are very popular in all seasons. And Toronto also has a thriving vegetarian community.
On the topic of relationships, I’d say that Toronto has a reputation of being a little unfriendly. But this isn’t really true. People are very friendly and helpful here. It’s also a very safe city to live in. The downtown area is full of people all day and night.
That was a very simple and short example of just getting my thoughts organized and starting to answer a question. There is much more you can say once you get started, but the hardest part is starting well. And remember, the point of this exercise is to give you a chance to practice using your vocabulary. Try it yourself. It works for simple questions and for very hard questions. Use your imagination and have a little fun.

I Feel Embarrassed to do this by Myself
Many of my students have told me that they feel they can’t do this exercise because they don’t have anyone to do it with and they feel embarrassed to do it alone.
I understand and I think it is important to remember that whenever we learn something new, there is always going to be a little embarrassment involved. We’ll make mistakes and ask wrong questions sometimes. But I have noticed that when we are willing to be a little embarrassed from time to time, it makes the learning process go faster. Please try it; it will help you so much.

I remember when I first started working independently on unfamiliar units. It was stressful because routines and procedures were different for each unit. Getting help from staff was often a challenge during busy shifts.

Getting useful advice or help from other staff nurses was often ‘iffy’ so you had to learn to see who is approachable and who is willing to help. Every unit has it’s own culture so part of being floating between units involved learning the hierarchy, the team dynamics, and figuring out who your resources will be.

Learning how to ask questions in a knowledgeable manner and framing it in terms of patient safety seem to be the two most important points to keep in mind. If you are unfamiliar with a certain procedure, the best thing is to look up the institutional policy/guideline governing this before asking other staff questions. In other words, doing the legwork shows them that you did try to find out the information beforehand which presents you in a better light. Approaching the charge nurse as the first resource person is usually the norm because most charge nurses do not have a patient assignment and therefore, may be able to spare a few minutes reviewing/supevising/demonstrating the procedure to you.

Referring to the clinical policy and asking for clarifications in my experience, usually got the best response from staff. Also, if you frame your question from a patient safety viewpoint, 99% of the time, you would be able to get assistance because that is one of the nursing tenets (do not harm to the patient).

How to ask a question intelligently

Meetings can be telling experiences. If you’re an employee, you want to look good in front of your boss. If you’re selling something, you want to make a good impression on your prospect. If you’re the meeting leader, you want to set a good example for your team. In all of these scenarios, you want to add as much value to the meeting as possible, and look as smart as you can in front of the other participants.

Doing so can be tough, even if you’re well-read and invested in the topic of the meeting. That’s because meeting participation requires as much poise as intelligence, and one redundant question or moment of distraction could make it look like you weren’t paying attention.

To improve your reputation and keep the meeting as effective as possible, ask a variant of one or more of these seven questions:

1. Why are we here? As long as you don’t ask this question bluntly or with a negative tone, you won’t be cited as being antagonistic or resistant. Clarifying the purpose of the meeting, whether you’re asking a supervisor or asking one of your employees, can help bring the main topic of the meeting to everyone’s mind. The more focused everyone is on achieving that primary goal (or discussing that main idea), the more efficiently you’ll be able to do so as a group. This is also your opportunity to chime in with your own thoughts about the future of the discussion–as long as this hasn’t explicitly been covered already.

2. Is this helping our bottom line? The “bottom line” here could refer to several different things, but the purpose of the question is to zoom out and look at the topic from a broader perspective. For example, let’s say your meeting is about creating a marketing strategy that will earn you more web traffic and two of your coworkers have entered into a debate over which social media scheduling service is better suited for the campaign. Asking this question will illuminate the fact that the “bottom line” is getting more customers, and the current discussion is not relevant to that ultimate purpose. In other scenarios, this question can help realign your other meeting participants to the core purpose of gathering.

3. What evidence is there to support that? Most people will speak up in a meeting with their own thoughts and opinions; on the whole, this is good, but it’s rare that someone justifies those opinions with evidence. If you catch someone making a bold claim with no backup, or if you simply disagree with someone, tactfully ask them if they have any evidence to support their claims. Regardless of whether there is or isn’t evidence available, the group will have more information to qualify that person’s claim, and the meeting will be able to progress more intelligently (thanks to you).

4. What do you think? Ask this of someone else specifically in the room, and think carefully about who you call out. This isn’t about forcing participation so much as it is eliciting the opinion of someone more relevant to the claim or idea. For example, let’s say you’re meeting about the design for a new product your company is offering. You could ask the salesperson his opinion, to figure out the impact the design might have on customers from a sales perspective. You could ask the head of marketing her opinion, to see what elements are most important to emphasize in new ads. The key is to help others bring up important perspectives and ideas related to the topic at hand (and get credit by proxy for the new conversational value).

5. What other options are there? This is a useful question because it can be used in almost any scenario. No matter how solid an idea seems, there’s probably at least one alternative option that could theoretically replace it. This question forces the entire room of people to question their previous assumptions and treat the new idea critically. You’ll seem cautious, thoughtful, and thorough, and the group will have a better chance at fully exploring the topic before moving on.

6. What don’t we know? According to Donald Rumsfeld, there are Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns. That is to say, there are things about your meeting’s topic that you’re all aware you’re missing, and potential items that nobody has considered. This question raises attention to both categories. First, it forces your meeting participants to list all the things they still need to research about the topic. Second, it stirs up enough attention to possibly recognize and identify those pesky “unknown unknowns” before they cause any damage.

7. What are the action items? This is useful as an end-of-meeting recap, and shows that you’re most concerned with turning the discussion items of the meeting into a tangible and actionable list. Offer your own recap of action items, including who’s responsible for what, and open the floor to any additional points you may have missed.

Obviously you can’t just throw these questions out and hope they’re appropriate; you’ll have to listen and participate carefully, with these probing questions in the back of your mind if you want a chance to show off your reasoning skills. Of course, there’s no substitute for doing your homework and paying close attention, so keep your head in the game and do your best to stay current in the meeting as it develops. For more insights on advancing your career, grab my eBook, Climbing the Corporate Ladder: Career Hacks for Modern Professionals.

In almost every Bible study group, prayer requests are shared. In fact, we may even feel cheated if prayer requests are eliminated from our group! Unfortunately, gathering prayer requests is as far as it usually goes. But what if we saw a prayer request as an opportunity?

Here’s what I mean: some prayer requests require ministry action. For example, if a couple uses the prayer time to announce that they are expecting a baby, passing that information along to the Preschool Sunday School leaders would be important. Deacons and other ministry leaders could be informed about hospital stays, family crises, and deaths of family members. In this way, the prayer request becomes an opportunity for ministry action, reaching all areas of the church.

Prayer requests also represent opportunities for church leaders. By knowing needs, leaders can make wise choices when they plan events, host fellowships, and train leaders. The pastor could better understand the needs of the church and prepare sermons that meet the needs expressed in the prayer requests. Being aware of specific needs makes him a better pastor.

To do this kind of intentional action, you need to ask four questions:

  1. How can we efficiently gather accurate prayer requests?
  2. How do we communicate the requests?
  3. To whom should we communicate these requests?
  4. How can we encourage those making a specific request?

Let’s take a deeper look at these questions.

How can we efficiently gather accurate prayer requests?

Notice the two words, efficiently and accurate. A Bible study group could spend the majority of their time gathering requests, but that would compromise their time of actually studying the Bible. For me, making a sheet of paper available during the study time for people to record their requests has been the most efficient. The second element is accurate. We want to make sure that the requests shared are up to date. There is nothing worse than telling someone that you are praying for their loved one, only to find out that the loved one passed away a month ago.

How do we communicate the requests?

This question involves both form and medium. How we word something is very important. If someone requests prayer for a nephew who hates his job and is looking for a new one, that request could be worded when shared with others as a request for a nephew who needs wisdom about his future. We don’t know who may read the requests in today’s world, so we need to be careful. Hospital stays and other events requiring time away from home become important information if it falls into the wrong hands, which brings us to the medium: should we post all our requests on social media? What are the risks of making a request public? Do we really want everyone on Facebook to know about Dave having surgery and being in rehab for 6 weeks? How we communicate is important.

To whom should we communicate these requests?

We have already mentioned sharing requests with the pastor and other church leaders. Who else needs to know about the prayer request? We mentioned a couple announcing an addition to their family earlier. Who all needs to know about that particular request, and why?

How can we encourage those making a specific request?

Gathering prayer requests is certainly about being aware and knowing how to pray intelligently, but it is also about encouraging those for whom we are praying. There is nothing like getting a note from someone who is praying specifically for you. Those notes lighten the load and help us face whatever challenge we are facing. Part of this is celebrating God’s answers as well. Both the one being prayed for and the one praying are encouraged by answered prayer, so finding a way to include answers to requests is also important.

Prayer is an important part of the life of a Bible study group. Requests serve as a means of communicating priorities, needs, and victories. They give us clues about each other, helping us build deeper relationships. They also provide opportunities for us to minister to people and involve others in the process. If they are that important, then some strategic thought is in order. The four questions identified above should serve as starting points to help you think strategically about the requests shared in your Bible study group.

G. Dwayne McCrary is a project team leader for ongoing adult Bible study resources at Lifeway, including the adult Explore the Bible resources. He also teaches an adult group and preschool group every Sunday in the church he attends.