Asking questions at work can be intimidating. Whether it’s a discussion about an unfamiliar topic or questions for a supervisor, it’s important to have the right conversation. Here are four tips that can help you ask the right questions in a professional setting.
Displaying negativity when you have questions can really limit what you gain from a conversation. Questions can sometimes feel like criticisms if you don’t put a positive spin on things. Don’t set someone up to get defensive; instead, be upfront and upbeat. This is twice as applicable if you receive an answer you didn’t want to hear.
Ask for Clarification
Miscommunications are for rookies. As you have a discussion, make note of anything you’re not sure about and circle back. Don’t be the person that walks away from a meeting saying to themselves “What just happened?” If you’re not sure, ask! There’s always room to double-check for clarification.
Questions that are open-ended will often get better results. If you start with “Can I have a raise?”, it’s pretty easy to say no. However, if you pitch your growth and why you deserve a pay bump, end with something like, “What are our options regarding my salary?” Open-ended questions save room for compromise and keep the conversation flowing.
Sometimes the best thing to do to get an answer to a question is simply listen. If you are receptive to input, you’ll learn more about the situation. Also, it’s possible someone will answer your question before you ask it. Be conscious of how much you speak in a conversation and make a conscious effort to let others share.