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How often do you think about what makes great questions? The right questions determine the direction of a conversation, its duration, and the quality of responses you get.

I was with a group of people talking about this-and-that. I noticed that there was one person there who didn’t say much. In over an hour she spoke three times, briefly, yet she probably contributed more to the conversation than any of the rest of us.

She did this by asking great questions. Great questions are the ones which contribute to a conversation by forcing you to think. You’ll probably have to think hard because you won’t have been asked such questions before.

Some people use questions as a means of showing their own cleverness. Or they might ask questions to obstruct or challenge the speaker. Quite often questioning speaks loudly about the person asking, and adds nothing useful to a discussion.

Great questions are not ‘clever’, they are curious and humble. Though they also say a lot about the questioner, the focus is always on the person being asked, who’ll often respond positively to the attention.

People generally appreciate great questions, even though they might be a little uncomfortable at times (though that’s not a requirement). Learn to ask good ones and you’ll train yourself to steer the conversation and even to shape results.

The results you get are determined by the quality of questions you ask. To put it another way, questions can shape outcomes.

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