The Art of Skilful Questions

Effective communication often consists of the ability to slow down your mind so that you can listen to what is being communicated to you. Note that I have said, “Communicated to you” rather than, “…said to you.” In oral communication, the words we actually say are only a fraction of what we are communicating. For those of you who have English as your second language you would understand this concept very easily. While developing your competency at speaking English, the words that you use are often only a fraction of what you are trying to convey in your mind (where you use are using your first language to speak to yourself). Our body language tries to compensate for us in that it communicates for us while we speak. The challenge that we have is that our body language and our words aren’t always in agreement!

It is for this reason that the art of asking good questions is so important. When you are truly listening you are more able to hear what is not being said, and better able to listen to what the body language may be telling you. Good listeners know that anything they believe that they heard, or did not hear but was said “between the lines” is just an assumption…until it is confirmed or otherwise by the person they were listening to. Rather than believing that their assumptions are always accurate, good listeners ask questions. The questions that they ask are designed to help them to develop their understanding. Good listeners, through the use of artful questions, can also help other people to better understand what they are trying to say as well. Wise people and mentors have known this for thousands of years, which is why the good ones are both good listeners and skilful questioners.

Read the attached article by Michael Marquardt. His suggestions for developing the art of becoming a good questioner are exceptional. You may like to contribute to the discussion on this topic as well and share your experiences; both of having been asked great questions and your own experience of using them yourself.

Marquardt – The Power of Great Questions.pdf

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at