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The Art of Asking: Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers

Book Description

Ask the Right Questions in the Right Ways...And Get the Answers You Need to Succeed!

Discover the core questions that every manager needs to to avoid the mistakes business questioners make most often...ten simple rules for asking every question more effectively. Learn how to ask tough questions and take control of tough situations...use questions to promote innovation, drive change, identify hidden problems, and get failing projects back on track.

Ask better questions, get better answers, achieve better results!

“Required reading for every leader who wishes to see his or herorganization flourish and career progress.”

Garry A. Neil, MD, Corporate Vice President, Johnson & Johnson

“Asking, listening, understanding the real meaning of the answers, and taking actions based on facts are really the essence of managing. This book has helped me in connecting the dots in my understanding (and lack thereof) of why things really did not work the way I expected them to.”

Pradip Banerjee, PhD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xybion; retired partner, Accenture

“The framework and techniques provide outstanding ideas for executives to both gain better information and develop the analytical skills of their teams.”

Terry Hisey, Vice Chairman and US Life Sciences Leader, Deloitte

We’ve all met the corporate inquisitor: the individual whose questions seem primarily intended to terrify the victim. The right goal is to solve the problem--and to build a more effective, collaborative organization where everyone learns from experience, and nobody’s too intimidated to tell the truth.

That means asking the right questions in the right ways. This book will teach you how to do precisely that. Terry J. Fadem shows how to choose the right questions and avoid questions that guarantee obvious, useless to help people give you the information you to use body language to ask questions more to ask the innovative or neglected questions that uncover real issues and solutions.

You’ll learn how to adopt the attributes of a good questioner...set a goal for every question...use your personal style more effectively...ask tough questions, elicit dissent, react to surprises, overcome evasions, and more. Becoming a better questioner may be the most powerful thing you can do right now to improve your managerial effectiveness--and this book gives you all the insights, tools, and techniques you’ll need to get there.

  • Evaluate your current “questioning” skills...
    ...then systematically improve them

  • Choose better questions...
    ...and ask them the right way

  • Ask tough questions more effectively
    Get at the truth, uncover the real problem, and solve it

  • Master the crucial nonverbal aspects of asking questions
    Finding your best style and the right body language

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Praise for The Art of Asking
  3. Disclaimer
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. About the Author
  6. Preface: Corporate Inquisitions
    1. The Not-So-Grand Inquisitor
  7. Introduction: Questioning Is the Skill of Management
    1. 1. Is There a Basic Set of Management Questions?
      1. Basic Questions
      2. Ten Basic Rules for Asking Questions
    2. 2. Asking Questions Is the Skill of Effective Management
    3. 3. How Good Are Your Skills?
    4. 4. You Ask Too Many Questions
  8. Common Errors: How to Recognize and Correct Them
    1. 5. What Are the Common Errors?
    2. 6. Do You Have Habit Questions?
    3. 7. Does Your Question Lack Context?
    4. 8. Do You Put the Answer in the Question?
    5. 9. Positioning: “Just a Country Lawyer...”
    6. 10. Posturing: When the Questioner Suddenly Becomes Larger
    7. 11. A “Casual” Question?
    8. 12. Do You Speak “Jargonese”?
    9. 13. Avoidance: If I Close My Eyes, Will the Elephant in the Room Disappear?
    10. 14. No Question: Managing by “Wall”
  9. Neglected Questions
    1. 15. If I Ask a Foolish Question, I’ll Look Foolish
    2. 16. Unasked Questions: If You Already Know the Answer, It Is Unnecessary to Ask the Question
    3. 17. Someone Else (of Higher Authority or Greater Experience) Will Ask
    4. 18. Saved Questions: I Will Save My Question for Another More Appropriate Time
    5. 19. My Question Will Make Waves and Making Waves Is Bad
    6. 20. Normalization of a Defect[11]
  10. Misuses of Management Skills: Inquisitions Are Not the Only Abuse of Questioning
    1. 21. Errors and the Misuse of Management Skills
    2. 22. Is Your Question an Abuse of Power?
    3. 23. Are There Questions That Should Not Be Asked?
  11. Questioning: Improve Your Skills
    1. 24. What Are the Attributes of a Person Who Asks Good Questions?
    2. 25. Are You Prepared to Ask?
    3. 26. What’s the Purpose of Your Question?
    4. 27. Words: Are Some Words More Important Than Others?
    5. 28. What Are the “Right” Questions?
    6. 29. Is Everything We Ask Important?
    7. 30. The Manner of Asking a Question: Style
    8. 31. What Was That You Said?
    9. 32. Can You Use a Raised Voice?
    10. 33. What Is Your Personal Style for Asking Questions?
    11. 34. Who Is Asking the Question?
    12. 35. Who Are You as a Manager?
  12. Signs and Signals
    1. 36. Hand Gestures and Other Physical Signals
    2. 37. Eye Contact
    3. 38. Demeanor, Body Language, and Facial Expressions
  13. Types of Questions
    1. 39. Direct Questions
    2. 40. Indirect Questions
    3. 41. Open Questions
    4. 42. Closed Questions
    5. 43. Stupid Questions
    6. 44. Filtering Questions
    7. 45. Double-Direct Questions[26]
    8. 46. Hypothetical Questions (If, What If, Suppose)
    9. 47. Provocative Questions
    10. 48. Rhetorical Questions
    11. 49. Reflective Questions
    12. 50. Leading Questions
    13. 51. The Pause as a Question
    14. 52. Silent Questions
    15. 53. One-Word Questions
    16. 54. Clarifying Questions
    17. 55. Divergent Questions
    18. 56. Convergent Questions
    19. 57. Redirecting Questions
    20. 58. Negative Questions
    21. 59. Either/Or Questions
    22. 60. Loaded Questions
    23. 61. Trick Questions
    24. 62. Dual-Answer Closed Questions
    25. 63. General Reference Questions to Keep Handy
  14. Use of Skills
    1. 64. Do You Have a Plan?
      1. General Questioning Strategy for Most Business Settings
      2. Find a Strategy
    2. 65. Follow-Ups and Probes
    3. 66. Follow-Up Questions
      1. General Purpose Follow-Up Questions[28]
      2. What Specific Situations Call for Follow-Up Questions?
    4. 67. Probing Strategies
      1. Launching a General Probe
      2. When Do You Need to Launch a Probe?
    5. 68. Does the Manager Need to Control the Conversation?
    6. 69. Strategies for Asking Tough Questions
    7. 70. Mounting Challenges
    8. 71. Eliciting Dissent
    9. 72. Are You Prepared for Any Answer? What About a Surprise?
    10. 73. The Use of Leading Questions
    11. 74. Looking for Reasons
    12. 75. Are You Asking for an Opinion?
    13. 76. How Do You Evaluate New Ideas?
    14. 77. Looking for Trouble?
    15. 78. Strategies for the Setting
    16. 79. Are You Prepared for Answers?
    17. 80. Are You Prepared for Nonanswers?
    18. 81. Have You Asked About the Fatal Flaw?
      1. Disposable Diapers
      2. Build It—And No One Will Come
      3. Hair Today—Gone Tomorrow
      4. The Doctor’s Plan Was DOA
  15. Listening
    1. 82. Listening: The “Hearing Phenomenon”
    2. 83. What Are You Listening For?
    3. 84. Avoiding Listening Errors
  16. Conclusions
    1. 85. Is Socrates to Blame?
      1. The Socratic Manager
      2. Many Managers Have Been Given Horses to Manage
      3. Management Wisdom
    2. 86. Conclusions and Final Recommendations
  17. Epilogue
    1. Are You Still Here?
  18. Definitions
  19. References
  20. Questioning as a Spectator Sport: Where to Go to Watch and Learn the Game
  21. Endnotes
  22. Financial Times Press
  23. The Art of Asking?
  24. Inside Back Cover