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Art of Questioning

        posted by , May 17, 2013

Critical questioning is an art.

It's the basis of learning. It's also the basis of leadership, decision making, negotiations and practically every other soft skill.

Definition: Critical Questioning

Critical questioning is a technique that validates relevance, assumptions and evidence. The goal is to explore different perspectives and viewpoints to understand the implications of ideas.

Critical Questioning vs. Creative Questioning

Creative questioning is the use of curiosity and imagination to generate a productive flows of questions.

Creative questioning is a somewhat vague term. It has evolved because people feel that "critical questioning" sounds too negative.

Critical questioning is a more defined technique that has roots extending back to Socratic Questioning (a method of critical questioning developed by Socrates).

How To Use Critical Questioning

Critical questioning relies on your listening and interpersonal skills. It's pointless to question someone if you're not actively listening to them.

Critical questioning cuts quickly to the heart of ideas. It can easily be perceived as hostile. Use your social skills to soften questions. Add humor or friendly disclaimers.

Use combinations of the following techniques to critically question ideas:

  1. Establish Relevance
    Why are we talking about this?

  2. Ask For Clarifications
    What do you mean?

  3. Challenge Assumptions
    What could we assume instead?

  4. Seek Evidence
    Can you give me an example?

  5. Probe Alternatives
    What about ...?

  6. Investigate Perspectives
    How would .... feel about this?
    Is there another way to look at this?

  7. Examine Implications & Consequences
    What are you implying?
    What does this mean to ....?
    What's the global impact?

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