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Clear Questions


Techniques > Questioning > Clear Questions

Non-leading questions | Non-emotional questions | Avoid jargon | Avoid complex language | See also


Sometimes you want to use questions that not clear for specific reasons, but most of the time, when you are seeking honest answers, you will want to ask questions that allow the other person to answer exactly how they feel.

Even when your intent is for clear answers, it is easy to ask what you think is a nice and easy question and then find that they are confused and perhaps even answer a completely different question. Here are a few things to remember.

Non-leading questions

Leading questions have their place, but not if you want to get unbiased answers. Think carefully about how the other person may interpret the question.

Non-emotional questions

Questions that display emotion may lead the other person towards seeking to calm you down. This may also lead to them getting empathetically wound up. The stronger the emotion, the greater the effect.

Questions that lead them into emotional states will also have an impact on their responses. If not for this question then possibly for subsequent ones.

One way of avoiding emotion is to talk in the third person, taking yourself and especially them out of the picture. For example, rather than saying:

"Do other drivers make you feel angry?"

You might say instead:

"Have you seen people being annoyed by other drivers?"

Avoid jargon

Jargon is helpful for people who specialize in the same subject as it allows them to talk in 'shorthand'. It is sometimes useful to use it with other people to signal your expertize. Most of the time, however, it just annoys other people who think you are trying to look good and increase your status at their expense.

Avoid complex language

Academics and writers love to play with big words. It is their medium and utilization of complex verbiage creates essential stimulatory excitation for them. It also often falls into a form of jargon.

Sadly or otherwise, most of us have a very limited vocabulary. Of the 25000-plus words in the English language, only about 2000 (or less!) are used in many everyday conversations.

See also

Objectivity principle

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