Use correct grammar. When you ask your question, use the best grammar and pronunciation that you can. Speak clearly and enunciate. This will not only make you appear more intelligent, but it will help make sure that the person you are asking can understand you and what you want to know.
Use specific language. Try to be as specific as you can and use specific language. Don’t use hyperbole, and make sure to ask about what you really want to ask about. For example, don’t ask a business person if they’re hiring at all, if you’re really only interested in a particular position. Similarly, don’t ask if they have a position open, but instead ask if they are hiring for the position you’re looking for or would be qualified for.
Ask politely and second-guess carefully. You are seeking information to fill a gap in your knowledge and here is the person who may have the answer, so be polite! If appropriate, if you do not really feel comfortable with the response or feel that it does not respond to what you have asked, proceed gently by asking how they know this information. Ask what the general trend is that would short cut a path to that knowledge, meaning that you are seeking the tools to answer the questions yourself from this point onwards.
4Keep the question simple. Don’t ramble or explain anything more than what is needed to understand your problem and answer the question. Extra information can be distracting and may cause you to get an answer for an entirely different question that what you wanted to ask, if the person you’re asking misunderstands your purpose.
- For example, don’t tell your doctor all about your day leading up to your health problem. They don’t need to know that you got on the bus late that morning. What they do need to know is that you ate a different breakfast than normal and now your stomach hurts.
5Use either open ended or closed questions. Depending on the situation, you may want to be sure you’re asking either open ended or closed ended questions. When you need a specific answer or a firm yes or no, try to use closed ended questions. When you need as much information as possible, use open ended questions.
- Open ended questions usually start with phrases like “why” and “tell me more about”.
- Closed ended questions usually start with phrases like “when” and “who”.
Sound confident. Sound confident when you ask. Don’t be apologetic or self-deprecating. This will make you seem like you are more intelligent and make someone less likely to judge you on what you’re asking. This is more important in some situations than in others. If you’re asking a teacher a question, don’t worry about this. If you’re asking a question in a job interview, however, it’s probably a good idea.
Don’t use filler language. Filler language is language like “erm”, ”um”, “uh“, “ah”, “em”, “like”, etc. These are words you put in a sentence while you’re looking for the next word you want to use. Most people do it completely unconsciously. Use as little filler language as possible if you want to appear more intelligent, and want your question to seem more well-thought-out.
Explain why you’re asking. If it helps and the situation allows, you should consider explaining why you’re asking or what your eventual goal is. This may help clear up misunderstandings and may help the person you are asking to give you information you didn’t even know you needed.
9Never ask a question in an aggressive manner. This indicates that you are only asking the question to prove to the other person that you are right and they are wrong, meaning that you are argumentative and not open-minded. Ask because you are genuinely interested. Otherwise, you will receive a defensive and less than helpful response.
- Don't ask: "Isn't it true that more people would be well-fed if we ate grains directly rather than feeding it to animals and eating their meat?"
- Ask: "Many vegetarians argue that there would be more food available if society didn't invest in meat production. The argument seems to make sense, but do you know of any arguments on the flip side?"
Just ask! The most important part of asking a question is to just ask! There is essentially no such thing as a stupid question so you shouldn’t be ashamed to be asking for help. Asking questions is what truly smart people do! Also, the longer you put off asking, the more difficult your problem may become.
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