A Skill you Need to Have
Asking the right question allows you to spark a great conversation, learn more about someone and build stronger connections.
How can you ask the right question?
Ask a question no one else asks.
Asking this type of question shows that you’ve synthesized all the information a person has said, and you are now interested in information beyond the surface level.
It could be in a one-on-one meeting, a group conversation, or the last question for a presenter after everyone has left.
Scenario: A doctor gives a presentation on his current research.
Other people: nitpick his methodologies and explore his areas of future interest.
You: Ask about how he balances his work and family life.
The purpose here is to move beyond what the person actually said, and venture into territories that might initiate an entirely different and powerful conversation. This way, you learn about who the doctor is as a person, not just the work he or she does.
Scenario: An investment banker shares his financial experiences.
Other people: Inquire about investment strategies and sectors primed for growth.
You: Heard that this individual also likes to make music, prompting a question about genre preference.
Again, other people already asked the obvious questions. By listening carefully to an anecdote, you heard that the investment banker wrote music in college while studying economics. This tidbit of information is all you need to learn more about someone and their personal interests.
Scenario: A friend talks about their brothers and sisters.
Other people: Ask about their ages, occupations, and where they live.
You: Show interest in the dynamic of their sibling relationship as time progressed.
Asking this question allows you to learn more about this particular person, and in doing so it could help to build stronger connections. Sharing personal stories about growing up and family life is a way to cultivate friendships and relationships.
Questions can seek facts or emotions. Questions emphasizing the latter tend to be more interesting and fulfilling to answer. the scenarios above highlight different ways a question can be unique and powerful. People (for the most part) are not encyclopedias, so it is in your best interest to ask questions only they can answer.
Search engines can take care of all the rest.